When Mario Testino's museum MATE opened in july 2012, I remember thinking "I wish one day I could go and visit, but it's so far away"... not knowing that my dream would come true only two years later!
When people visit Peru, Machu Picchu is usually one of the higlights of their trip. Well, Machu Picchu is of course breathtakingly beautiful, but for me, visiting Mario Testino's museum was the best part of my visit to Peru! Standing in the museum of my longtime inspirator, example, hero... I can hardly describe how amazing that felt.
The building itself is a piece of art. The 19th century townhouse in the bohemian district Barranco, was competely restored with the utmost love and care, turning it into a non-profit museum, "to cultivate and promote culture in Peru".
MATE hosts the only permanent exhibition of Mario Testino's work in the world. There are rooms dedicated to his various objects of attention (and desire): models, movie stars, performers, royalty, as well as traditonally dressed Peruvians.
The first room is dedicated to Kate Moss. Here you'll see one of her (and his) most famous portraits, the one with the turquoise, green, white and red paint on her face. It's such a strong and attracting image! I still remember seeing it in the "Portraits"exhibition in 2003 in Amsterdam.
The second room is all about another supermodel, Gisele Bündchen. Mario Testino was actually credited for turning her into a super model. His photos of her are sizzling hot! Their Latin American roots and energy work really well together. But then again, Testino portrays everyone as the most beautiful version of themselves.
Other rooms are dedicated to Madonna, (movie) stars such as Brad Pitt and Gwyneth Paltrow, the fashion scene, including many stunning group pictures and last but not least to Diana, Princess of Wales. This room had a very serene atmosphere. The beautiful, happy pictures of her, together with the Versace dress she wore, show an important part of history.
While I was there, there was also a temporary exhibition "Alta Moda", a series of portraits of traditionally dressed Peruvians from the Andean highlands (alta means high, but also refers to "haute couture"). They were just as beautiful and self confident as the models and superstars in the other rooms! And rightly so. Their costumes are amazing! They must have taken so much time and energy to make.
MATE is a modern museum with a lovely café and -even better- a wonderful gift shop! I always love museum shops, but this one is my all time favourite...! Photography books, postcards and magnets with Testino's famous photos on it, t-shirts, plates, candles, his collection of Peruvian accessories (which was initially sold via net-a-porter)... and on and on. I literally wanted to take everything home!!!
Next time you're in Peru, put Mario Testino's museum on the top of your list! I can't wait to go back one day.
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Special thanks to Jose Carlos of PromPeru and USP Marketing PR.