Rotund People and Animals are The focus of the Botero Museum in Colombia – Bogota & Medellin

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Have you been to the outdoor Botero Museum in Colombia? Imagine seeing iconic bronze sculptures as you walk the streets of Medellin. Fernando Botero is a renowned Colombian artist best known for his signature style of exaggerated and disproportionate figures. His paintings, sculptures, and drawings feature rounded and voluminous figures, often of humans, animals, and still life. Botero’s paintings are recognizable for their bright colours, bold outlines, and exaggerated proportions.

Cat - Gato- 1999 - Botero Plaza in Medellin Colombia
Cat – Gato- 1999 – Botero Plaza in Medellin Colombia Photo credit: @DownshiftingPRO.

Botero’s works are heavily inspired by art history and often feature classical mythology, religion, and portraiture themes. Fernando Botero has become one of the most celebrated Latin American artists, and his works are featured in major galleries and museums worldwide. However, where you want to see his work is in the Botero Museum in Colombia – in Bogota and the Botero Plaza in Medellin.

You don’t have to go to the Botero Museum in Colombia to see his overblown caricatures of people and animals. Perhaps you have seen a sculpture in The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago or in, the Sculpture Museum in New Orleans or on private property in Montreal (it was located previously in Old Montreal); you will never mistake a Botero sculpture.

One of the most famous works of art by Colombian artist Fernando Botero is ‘The Mona Lisa.’ This painting is a parody of the famous Leonardo da Vinci painting and is often referred to as ‘Botero’s Mona Lisa’. A bit cheeky but a true masterpiece, Botero’s Mona Lisa is worth the visit alone to this complex of museums.

Botero Museum in Bogota Mona Lisa
Detail of Monalisa – 1978 – Botero Museum Bogota, Colombia

My subject matter is Colombia and it has always been Colombia; I lived many years in New York, in Paris, and I have never had the feeling to paint an American or a French subject matter. The thing is that the art – and the artist – must have roots in his own land, in his own life: my life is in Colombia, and my land is Colombia. Now, of course, the language that you use to express the subject matter must be universal: the composition, the colour, the balance, etc. In this sense, subject must be local, but the language must be universal, in order to touch any human being in the world…

On staying with Colombia as his subject matter in “Interview: Fernando Botero” in TimeOut Shanghai (2016 Feb 25)

Botero Museum in Bogota

The Botero Museum is part of the Banco de la Republica cultural and heritage museums, a network of museums you can visit with exhibitions of outstanding pieces from art, archeology, currency and coins collections, among others. This collection of museums incorporates  Miguel Urrutia Art Museum -MAMU (Colombian, Latin American and European artists), El Parqueadero Project Room, the Republican House, the Botero Museum and the Casa de la Moneda Museum (Mint Museum).

Botero museum in Bogota courtyard 1
Courtyard of the Botero Museum in Bogota – Photo credit: @DownshiftingPRO.

Travel tip: On the streets adjacent, you will find local artisans selling the perfect souvenirs to bring back from Colombia. If you are hungry, hop in an Uber or walk to La Perseverancia Street Food Market for authentic and multi-regional food. It is one of the best experiences in Bogota.

Within close walking distance of the Plaza Simon Bolivar, these buildings are situated in the historic colonial heart of downtown Bogota. The Botero Museum stands out as a keeper of both sculptures and paintings. There are English-guided tours on Wednesdays at 12:30 pm and Fridays at 5 pm. The museums are closed on Tuesdays.

The Botero Museum in Bogota is a series of rooms with a beautiful courtyard in the middle. It also holds a few Botero private collection pieces from Picasso, Miro, Dali, Renoir and Pissarro.

miro and picasso at the botero museum in Bogota Colombia

Plaza Botero in Medellin

One of Medellin’s most popular tourist attractions, Plaza Botero, is a public square located in the heart of Medellin, Colombia. It is named after one of Colombia’s most famous artists, who donated many of his sculptures to the city.

The square is home to 23 of Botero’s bronze sculptures, which are larger than life and depict a variety of subjects, including people, animals, and abstract forms. In addition to the sculptures, Plaza Botero features several fountains and seating areas where visitors can relax and enjoy the atmosphere.

Horse Botero in Medellin Colombia
Horse with bridles (Caballo con bridas), 1992 – Plaza Botero Medellin, Colombia – Photo credit: @DownshiftingPRO.

Plaza Botero is located in the historic center of Medellin, which is known for its vibrant street art, colonial architecture, and bustling markets. It is easily accessible by public transportation and a popular spot for locals and visitors to gather and enjoy the city’s vibrant culture.

Since the tumultuous 1970s and 80s, Medellín city has undergone a significant transformation, including urban renewal projects and social programs aimed at reducing poverty and violence. One of the reminders of those tumultuous years is The Bird statue. The first was the one bomb in 1994 when a terrorist group set it off during a music festival. Twenty-three people were killed and 200 injured, but Botero chose to leave the statue where it was and rebuild a second to commemorate the incident.

The Bird Botero in Medellin
The Bird – bombed in in 1994
Photo credit: @DownshiftingPRO.

There are many walking tours that you can take, and we signed up for a free tour which was EXCELLENT. Getting around Medellin is easy as it has terrific public transit and is reasonably safe. Our Real City Tour guide did warned us to be careful with our purses and backpacks.

Plaza Botero Medellin Colombia Botero Museum
Palacio de la Cultura Rafael Uribe – Medellin, Colombia – Pensamiento (Thought), 1992 –
Photo credit: @DownshiftingPRO.

Roman Soldier - 1986 - Botero Plaza in Medellin Colombia - Botero Museum
Roman Soldier (Soldado Romano)- 1986 – Botero Plaza in Medellin Colombia –
Photo credit: @DownshiftingPRO.

Some of the most photographed Botero sculptures are:

  1. Maternity: A sculpture of a woman holding a baby.
  2. The Hand: A sculpture of a giant hand.
  3. The Cat: A sculpture of a large cat.
  4. Man on a Horse: A sculpture of a man riding a horse.
  5. Roman Warrior: A sculpture of a Roman soldier with a shield and sword.
  6. Adam and Eve: A sculpture of Adam and Eve standing next to each other.
  7. The Bird: A sculpture of a large bird.
  8. The Fat Mona Lisa: A sculpture of a plump version of the famous painting.
  9. Horse: A sculpture of a horse standing on its hind legs.
  10. Woman with a Fruit Basket: A sculpture of a woman carrying a basket of fruit.
Head 1999 Botero in Medellin scaled
Head (Cabeza) – 1999 – Botero Plaza in Medellin Colombia – Photo credit: @DownshiftingPRO.

Four additional Botero statues can be found in the nearby Parque Berrio and San Antonio Plaza.  And there are additional Botero statues in Museo de Antioquia which is in the Plaza Botero.

Botero Plaza Medellin Colombia
Clothed Man – (Hombre vestido) – 1989 – Outside the Palacio de la Cultura Rafael Uribe – Medellin, Colombia – Photo credit: @DownshiftingPRO.

Related Posts: Things to do in Medellin

Botero around the world

Mother and Child 1988 Fernando Botero New Orleans Museum of Art
Mother and Child – Botero – Sculpture Museum at the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA)
Photo credit: @DownshiftingPRO.

You may find Botero sculptures in many places around the world. The most notable collections of his sculptures can be found in Medellin, Colombia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Madrid, Spain; and New York City. There are also many galleries and museums around the world, such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Kunsthaus in Zurich, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, which feature Botero’s sculptures in their permanent collections.

El Gato del Raval Fernando Botero Barcelona Spain

The is no question that once you discover the paintings and sculptures of the great Colombian artist, you will appreciate his unique vision of rotund people and animals. Be sure to keep a lookout in Barcelona, Madrid, Malta… the list is long.

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Margarita Ibbott is a travel and lifestyle blogger. She blogs about travel in Canada, the United States and Europe giving practical advice through restaurant, hotel and attraction reviews. She writes for and other online media outlets.