The Remigio Crespo Toral Museum is located in the World Heritage City of Cuenca, Ecuador. The building was constructed between 1910 and 1917 using adobe, wood, and an earthen construction technique called bahareque, similar to wattle and daub. It was the residence of renowned twentieth-century poet Remigio Crespo Toral until 1967, when it became a museum. In 1981 it was purchased by the municipality and became the City Museum. The museum houses important collections and archives and was a destination for visitors to the historic center of Cuenca until it closed in 1991 for public safety reasons. Frequent rainfall and flooding of the Tomebamba River exacerbated the building’s water infiltration problems. The high levels of dampness and the presence of wood-eating insects threatened its structure and collections. One of the most symbolic spaces within the museum is Hall 1, Toral’s former office. Its structure is mud and wood, and between 1910 and 1920 it was decorated in the French style with wallpaper, a pressed metal ceiling of European origin, and built in furniture. By the time the building was included on the 2014 World Monuments Watch, severe deterioration had left Hall 1 unusable.
Conservation of Toral’s former office a catalyst for complete restoration
In cooperation with the Conservatecuador Foundation, WMF supported the restoration of Hall 1 in 2015. The project brought the room and its furnishings back to their original condition, and soon after the work was completed the space was declared suitable for public use. In addition, Cuenca’s Municipality provided additional funds for the restoration of the entire building, which began in February 2016. The museum reopened to the public in May 2017. The work supported by WMF at Hall 1 served as an intervention model for the project.
A Watch Day was held in April 2014, and participants enjoyed presentations on recent restoration works, tours of the site, a concert, workshops, drawing contests, and a photography exhibit. The event marked the closure of the museum for restoration.
The Remigio Crespo Toral Museum is both a symbol of the cultural, social, and political impact Toral had on life in Cuenca and a major element of the city’s architectural heritage. WMF's initial work and the subsequent restorations it inspired have already allowed more people to appreciate the significance of the building.