About us

The MALI’s permanent collection preserves more than 18,000 pieces –among textiles, ceramics, metal work, photography, drawings and paintings– that witness to more than 3,000 years of art history in Peru. The museum exhibits the artworks in the permanent galleries in a sequential way divided in four sections: pre-Columbian, Colonial, Republican and Modern art. It also has galleries for temporary exhibitions of national and international artists. MALI is located in the heart of downtown Lima and provides the opportunity for a first approach to Peru, through its great masterpieces.

The Museum of Art of Lima (MALI) offers the opportunity to get to know Peruvian art from increasingly broad and varied perspectives. The institution, which houses a panoramic collection of Peruvian art through the ages, seeks to be a collaborative and interdisciplinary platform of art and culture, with an identity anchored in the local, but that operates in a regional and even global way.

MALI main objective

the preservation of local memory and the expansion of access to the arts and their enjoyment, contributing to reflection on a common history, to the formation of better citizens and a sensitive public sphere.
  • The principal aims of the museum are:
  • The scientific investigation of the collections
  • Passing on a clear understanding of the exhibits
  • The preservation of these unique collections for future generations

In 1954 a group of businessmen and intellectuals, concerned with promoting culture and the arts in Peru, formed an association called the Patronato de las Artes. Its main objective was to found an art museum in Lima. In support of this initiative, the Municipality of Lima offered the Palacio de la Exposición to house the future Museum. With the help of UNESCO, architect Hans Asplund and the museologist Alfred Westholm formulated the first modern project for a Peruvian museum. The initial restoration of the building, undertaken with support of the Peruvian and the French Governments, was inaugurated in 1957, on the occasion of a large French industrial and cultural exposition.

Once this exhibition was over, the basic work of adapting the building for a museum was begun. The Museo de Arte de Lima’s permanent exhibition galleries were officially inaugurated on 10th March 1961. President Manuel Prado presented on behalf of the Prado and Peña Prado families, the collection which had been formed at the beginning of the century by the writer Javier Prado y Ugarteche. This donation inspired the idea of creating a panoramic museum that could show a representative survey of art in Peru, from the pre-Columbian period to the present, and forms until today the base of the museum’s collections.
The Building
The building that houses the museum and its collections, known as the Palacio de la Exposición, is doubtless one of the outstanding examples of nineteenth century iron architecture in Latin America. Set in a public park located at the entrance to Lima’s historic downtown area, it was originally built to house Peru’s National Exhibition in 1872. This pioneering building was the first in the region built specially to hold large-scale exhibitions and to make use of the new technique of iron construction. The building encompasses, on its two floors, about 10.000 m2 of exhibition space, surrounding a central patio. The cast-iron columns, which define the modern spirit of the building, contrasts with the classic character of its façade, designed by Antonio Leonardi, an Italian architect residing in Lima.
Dressed in a Renaissance-style architecture, the building is one of the first to display the influence of French eclecticism in Peru. After the closing of the exhibition, the building was operated by the Society of Fine Arts as a museum and as a cultural centre until 1879, when the War of the Pacific forced a change of functions. The building was first used as a Peruvian military hospital and later as barracks for the occupation army. During the first half of the twentieth century, the Museum of National History was installed on the second floor (1905-1937), while the rest of the space was used by government offices. In 1954 it was assigned by the City of Lima to house the future Museo de Arte de Lima, thus returning the building to the function closest to that for which it was originally intended.