Museum of the Royal Tombs of Sipán, Chiclayo, Peru
Situated near the northern city of Chiclayo, this giant indigenous history museum exhibits the incredible artifacts that were excavated from the Lord of Sipán’s tomb back in 1987. For a slice of indigenous history that doesn’t involve the Inca, it really doesn’t get much better than this. Expect to find plenty of lavish jewelry and other regal artifacts on display.
Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
Perhaps the most colorful item on our list, at its peak in the 16th-century convent housed over 200 nuns. These days, most of the “town-within-a-town” has been converted into a pastel-colored open-air museum, the ideal spot for budding photographers and history buffs alike to get their daily fix. Vivid and vibrant buildings can be found at every turn along these quaint, cobblestone streets.
Museo de Arqueologia de Alta Montana, Salta, Argentina
A number of informative exhibits on pre-colonial people are held throughout this world-class museum, but it’s the Llullaillaco Children who are the real stars of the show. Sacfriced to the gods by the Inca on a nearby volcano during the pre-colonial era, three girls were uncovered in almost perfect condition by archeologists back in 1999. Only one mummy is on display at any given time, encased in a custom built case which circulates cool air to preserve the remains.
Museo del Oro, Bogota, Colombia
As the greatest gold museum in the world – let alone Latin America – Bogota’s premier tourist attraction has a whopping 20,000 pieces on display. All the dazzling artifacts originate from pre-hispanic to colonial times, effectively telling the country’s history through its most precious metal. Be sure to visit the astonishing gold room which houses some 8,000 individual works.
Ricardo Brennand Institute, Recife, Brazil
The plaything of a wealthy Brazilian businessman, this recreation of a medieval castle near the northern metropolis of Recife is one of the more unusual museums on our list. It opened in 2002 after founder Ricardo Brennand had spent much of his life amassing an incredible collection of classical art and armor. To house his prized acquisitions, he ordered the construction of an epic castle in the Tudor style complete with a drawbridge, portcullis, and a mammoth manicured garden. His 3,000 piece armor collection is among the biggest in the world while the 62,000 volume library is rather impressive as well.
Museo Nacional de Antropología, Mexico City, Mexico
The biggest and the best museum south of the border, this epic anthropology exhibition showcases an amazing collection of Aztec and Mayan artifacts. Its curators have spared no expense in putting together the display, with as many as 11 rooms each dedicated to archaeology and ethnology. Regularly rotating temporary exhibits can also be found throughout the massive complex.
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago, Chile
Established way back in 1880, Santiago’s fine arts museum was the first of its kind on the continent and is still widely considered the best. Inspired by the Petit Palais in Paris, the edifice itself is a worthwhile attraction thanks to its unique blend of Beaux-arts, Baroque, and Art Nouveau style. On the backside of the building is the city’s premier contemporary art museum, perfect for art lovers who enjoy the modern stuff as well.