The Maritime Museum of Ushuaia is located in the building of the former Prison of Ushuaia (or Re-offenders Prison of Tierra del Fuego). The building of the prison, which was closed down in 1947, was declared a National Historic Monument by the National Congress in April 1997. Nowadays, the Argentine Navy and the Maritime Museum of Ushuaia are recovering its facilities for visitors. This Web site provides some information about its history.
The Maritime Museum of Ushuaia is run by a non-profit Civil Association having no funding from national or provincial governments. This means that the improvements made on the historic building, the salaries, the utilities bills and any other works are funded by the entrance ticket and the profits from the selling of books and souvenirs (GIFT SHOP).
We are very grateful to the Argentine Navy and the Municipality of Ushuaia for their contribution with the museum’s operations.
In this historic building, the Director Lic. Carlos Pedro Vairo, supported by the Civil Association, created the Maritime Museum of Ushuaia, the Prison Museum, the Antarctic Museum José María Sobral, and the Marine Art Museum of Ushuaia.
All of them as a whole create a live museum where you can find a variety of features including naval models collections, the history of the discovery of Antarctica and several other aspects such as southern fauna, gold seekers, first settlers, life in the prison and, most important of all – the expeditions and research under development.
The Maritime Museum of Ushuaia – Based on a collection of models and naval models and with a maritime background, this museum depicts every aspect of the history of Tierra del Fuego from the particular point of view of seafarers. Tierra del Fuego, its surrounding archipelago, Islas Malvinas, Georgias islands, and Antarctica are all linked to the sea in every possible way.
The Museum of the Prison of Ushuaia – By visiting Pavilion IV, you will get to know the first Prison of Tierra del Fuego (1896), the project to set up a Penal Colony, and the construction of the present building.
This pavilion includes materials about the convicts, their work, punishments, the closing of the prison, and the sad stories of some of the most renowned prisoners.
The second floor lodges a permanent exhibit about the Provincial Police (managed by the Police Department of the Province of Tierra del Fuego) and a permanent exhibit of the National Penitentiary Service. The latter is managed by Mrs. María del Carmen Raggio de Villalba, Director of the National Penitentiary Museum R. Ballvé.
The Antarctic Museum José María Sobral – Located on the first floor of Pavilion IV, this museum comprises 19 rooms covering the richest Antarctic historic and biological heritage preserved. The former Director of MUSEOANTAR (under the National Antarctic Directorate), Dr. Ricardo Capdevila, who passed away on July 9, 2008, was responsible for the creation of this museum.
On the same floor, you can visit the Southern Fauna exhibit, which is depicted in association with man. Heads: Dr. Adrián Schiavini, Favio Fraga, and the National Antarctic Directorate (Dirección Nacional del Antártico, DNA).
To discover Ushuaia and its history, visitors are welcome to the second floor of Pavilion II to enjoy –
• Photo exhibit about the evolution of the town of Ushuaia
• Gold seekers exhibit covering historical and present aspects
• Exhibit showing the southern urban architectural heritage (by Architect Leonardo Lupiano)
• Pioneers and first settlers – This is a series of rooms (former cells) showing various aspects of European settlers in Tierra del Fuego
The Marine Art Museum of Ushuaia unfolds its collection on the second floor of Pavilion III.
The exhibit is made up of a selection of works aimed at showing a balanced overview of the development of marine art in Argentina from 1889 to the present. The marine theme is the center of this exhibition, which includes works of artists traditionally known as marinists, works of other artists who mainly depict ports and some other works by artists who, at some point, worked on water or fishing topics. Water is the link relating these artists, as well as other topics relevant such as ports, fishing, vessels and port works and their characters, among others.
On the first floor of Pavilion II, you will find the Art Gallery of the Maritime Museum, where artists from Patagonia, all of Argentina and from abroad exhibit their Patagonic and Antarctic works.
Besides, various plastic and photo workshops take place.
The Library, Video Library, and Newspapers library Roberto J. Payró keeps materials from the old library of the prison, the Naval Base and books on Southern Patagonia, Antarctica, and South Atlantic islands. It also includes a map library.
The Maritime Museum of Ushuaia jointly with Zagier & Urruty Publications have published an interesting collection of books dealing with topics such as the history of Ushuaia, the Prison of Ushuaia, shipwrecks in the area, regional cooking, and maritime ethnography, among others.