At the peak of his career in the 1930s, Carlos Gardel's fans used to gather at the curb outside his home, hoping to hear one of Argentina's greatest tango singers practice a tune before a show. Now, they can gather inside to hear him again.
Visitors to the remodeled "Carlos Gardel Museum Home'' at his former house in the Argentine capital can see black-and-white images of key moments in the career of the singer who gave tango a huge boost worldwide.
And the voice is on tap as well. Visitors can hear 893 recordings, which make up most of his repertoire, through headphones installed there.
"It's very interesting to visit the house where he lived and to give children a chance to understand that there are other types of music,'' said Siomara Gordon, a Colombian tourist visiting the museum. "He expresses love like no other.''
Gardel's cult remains powerful more than eight decades after his death in a 1935 air crash in Colombia at the age of 44. Argentines often leave carnations and burning cigarettes at his tomb in Chacarita cemetery in Buenos Aires and couples dance to his songs in packed halls.
Iconic images of him with a fedora hat pulled over his brow and a cigarette dangling from his lips are plastered on walls throughout Buenos Aires — and on those of Argentine restaurants worldwide.
The museum was first inaugurated in 2003, and reopened in June. It is located in the tango-crazed Abasto neighborhood of Argentina's capital, where Gardel used to frequent cafes and often perform. Gardel bought the home in 1926 at the peak of his career and lived there with his mother, Marie-Berthe Gardes. The place became the gathering point for journalists and friends visiting the singer.
"Gardel had this grand piano where he would rehearse his compositions. Guitarists and other musicians would get together with other friends and Gardel's mother, who was a great cook, would cook for all of them,'' museum director Carlos Koffman, said near the windows through which Gardel's fans outside could hear him practice.
The museum is filled with mementos including unpublished audiovisual material made shortly before his death. There is an authenticated copy of Gardel's birth certificate, which shows that he was born in Toulouse, France, on Dec. 11, 1890.
One room in the exhibition focuses on Gardel's tour of Latin America before his death. Images from Argentina's National Archives show Gardel's remains returning to Buenos Aires in 1936, his wake and his funeral.
"Gardel is huge today,'' said museum visitor Mariano Herrera. "And he'll continue to be great throughout time.''