University of Arkansas, Fayetteville


National identity is a concept that every nation constructs and celebrates through the remembrance of important events or persons, the projection of literary works, and the erection of monuments. Yet, in order to truly understand a nation’s self-imagery, one must examine and chart all of its different periods through time. This allows one to avoid narrow, static definitions by viewing a nation in a more holistic sense. In this study, it is hypothesized that museums function to preserve, assert, and disseminate a sense of heritage and, in the case of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, a sense of what being Argentinean has historically meant and currently signifies during a time of change and uncertainty. Museums accomplish this through schematically grouping their works by time period, artist, and subject material. This arrangement conveys an impression of Argentinean history, the attitudes and values of its citizenry, and its cultural traditions.