There is no better way to understand Colombia’s story and diversity than through its world-class museums. From the wisdom of indigenous cultures to the magnificence of its original and creative modern works, the country has told much of its story through art and gathered one of the most valuable collections in Latin America.
Bogotá’s Museo de Oro (or “Gold Museum”) is located in the city’s historic center and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. The Museum covers two floors and contains over 55,000 individual pieces of gold, many of which were crafted into necklaces, ornaments and sacred items by Colombia’s indigenous communities. The museum contains gold found in various locations throughout Colombia and is arranged both by date and community. It also displays information about Colombia’s indigenous past including the story of El Dorado.
Colombia’s only museum church, Santa Clara is one of the most stunning and representative colonial-era buildings in the whole of Bogotá. It was built between 1619 and 1647 and is home to hundreds of paintings, colonial-period statues and works of art. It costs around a dollar to visit, so there’s no real excuse for skipping this jewel of Colombian colonial-era architecture.
The National Museum, or Museo Nacional, is located in Bogotá. It’s the oldest museum in Colombia and one of the first museums in the Americas. It exhibits over 2,500 artifacts and objects ranging from 10,000 BC to the present day. There are 17 exhibition rooms featuring permanent and temporary exhibitions that reflect the history and culture of all of Colombia’s people. Apart from the displays, the museum organizes other cultural events such as dance performances, audiovisual presentations and concerts.
Bogotá Museum of Modern Art (MAMBO), was designed by architect Rogelio Salmona between 1971 and 1988. The sleek four-story building has clean lines and is a perfect example of postmodern architecture in Colombia. The museum is home to modern art of the 20th century and has a number of halls which are usually rented for private exhibitions that aim to show the world the evolution and state of contemporary art in the country.
The Botero Museum is located in the Candelaria neighborhood of Bogotá. La Candelaria is the city’s historic center with colonial architecture and brightly colored buildings. The Botero Museum is named after the famous Colombian artist, Fernando Botero, who donated 208 pieces of art to the museum: 123 of his own pieces and 85 pieces by other artists including works by Picasso and Monet. Situated in a two-story colonial whitewashed house, this museum has a garden in the center and a great view of Bogotá’s Monserrate from the top floor.
The Museum of Art Miguel Urrutia (also known as the Museum of Art of the Bank of the Republic) is part of the Bank’s extensive collection. It showcases not only pieces from Colombia, but also from the rest of Latin America and the world. Its permanent collection gathers works of art that date from the 16th century until today, and its temporary exhibitions have proved to be of exquisite taste and incredible value. It is connected to the Museo de la Moneda, another museum worth a visit, which houses the first gold coins of Latin America.
Located in a lovely 17th-century building known as the Casa de las Aulas, the Colonial Museum (previously known as the Colonial Arts Museum) is a must-visit spot for anyone with an interest in the colonial period in Colombia and Latin America in general. It houses a beautiful collection of colonial-era art and sculptures, as well as interesting and informative plaques explaining the culture and history of the period. It was recently renovated to make some presentations more interactive and modern.