In 2000, as cinema complexes were taking over, Grupo ILHSA took on the task of protecting the theater and converting it into a bookstore. While preserving the original architecture, the theater was transformed into a engaging bookstore.
The main change to the architecture was an oval cut into the floor in the main seating area. This change exposed the basement and an escalator was installed to give access to the newly created children’s section of the bookstore downstairs. The stage is now a coffee shop with a seating area. Nonetheless the dramatic red curtain and spotlights still adorn the stage.
The main level of the theater holds most of its books, DVDs and CDs. The upper balconies are primarily used as reading areas. There are over two hundred thousand books in El Ateneo Grand Splendid. With a special area for music and cinema there are twenty five thousand CDs and ten thousand DVDs in stock. The bookstore also holds many presentations, exhibits and conferences.
Since opening as a bookstore, fourteen million visitors have come through the doors.
Keeping all of its original theatrical intent, the bookstore is a wonderful place to spend a few hours. It is an especially welcome oasis with its air conditioning on a hot and humid March South American summer’s day.
El Ateneo publishing house opened in 1912 and marked its centennial in 2012.
Visit El Ateneo Grand Splendid
Av. Santa Fe; 1860 Cap. Fed.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Website: Official Buenos Aires Government Tourism Site
Phone: 4813.6052 / 4811.6104
Monday to Thursday from 9:00 to 22:00, Friday and Saturday from 9:00 to 24:00, Sunday from 12:00 to 22:00