Brush Strokes in Flight, a bold primary-colored totem by American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein, announces the smartly remodeled MAP, where an expertly presented collection ranks among the best in the Caribbean. It is itself worth the trip from San Juan. A $30-million renovation celebrated the museum’s 50th anniversary and the smart curation – some 850 paintings, 800 sculptures and 500 prints presented in provocative historical and thematic juxtapositions – represents five centuries of Western art.
The greatest-hits collection of Puerto Rican painters is stirring; look for the wall-sized Ponce by Rafael Ríos Rey at the rear of the museum. The building’s blanched edifice, winged central stair and hexagonal galleries were designed by architect Edward Durell Stone, who created Washington DC’s Kennedy Center. The exceptional pre-Raphaelite and Italian baroque collections are offset by impressive installations and special exhibits (which occasionally cost a small extra fee).
A complete tour of the museum takes about three hours, but if you only have time for a quick peek, spend some time sitting in awe of Edward Burne-Jones’s ghostly, half-finished The Sleep of Arthur in Avalon (look for the unfinished, blank eyes of the attending queens) and Lord Leighton’s erotic Flaming June, the museum’s sensual showpiece. Set across from the Universidad Católica, the MAP is about 10 blocks to the south of Plaza Las Delicias.