I’ve enjoyed going to museums my whole life. Every Saturday as a kid growing up in Memphis, I remember pestering my mother to take me to the Pink Palace –a fantastic natural history museum– if we weren’t going to the zoo or to the movies. Or maybe do all three! No matter how many times I went, there was always something new to learn.
That’s why museums are important for travelers too. They give visitors a look into a new place –a chance to see how local people present themselves to the world. Some people treat museums as an obligation while traveling, but I honestly look forward to it.
Bogotá’s museums seemed well-curated & attended by lots of bogotanos. That’s always a good sign. The Museo Nacional was a priority because I knew little about the country’s history & was looking forward to comparing it to Argentina. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn as much as I’d hoped. The first floor dealt with pre-Colombus era artifacts & the arrival of the Spanish. The second floor displayed items related to independence & early national history while the third floor was closed.
Some of the displays were great… like the photo below of the weapons used by the Spanish & the indigenous people. Not static or displayed on a wall, they are being used by invisible warriors. Nice. There was even a Moorish suit of armor brought from Andalucía after the Reconquest… something I can’t remember seeing even in Spain. But the section dealing with early national history –the one which I looked forward to seeing– was mainly composed of portraits & little detailed information about issues of the time. It could have been so much better. Then again, my standard is the Museo Nacional de Historia in Mexico City on the hill of Chapultepec… a very tough act to follow.
The combo museum Casa de la Moneda & Donación Botero made up for what the Museo Nacional lacked. In fact, there was a lot more discussion of national history with the retrospective of coins & bills than I expected. Great stuff… especially the story about saving the building from mobs by taking chlorine used for printing money & employing it as a chemical weapon to keep crowds from entering. Crazy. Lots & lots of Botero to see, but I was more impressed by the art collection he donated. Max Ernst! Robert Motherwell! An unexpected treat:
What most people go to see in Bogotá is the extraordinary collection of gold artifacts at the Museo de Oro. With good reason. It’s an absolutely stunning spot with wonderful displays. I overheard a woman say, “You can only look at so much gold,” & I tend to agree. But the quality of the pieces were breathtaking, & there was even a mummy on display. Always a plus! The final room with an audiovisual show was nicely done as well… probably the nicest exhibit of the museum but made with the collection’s leftovers. Very highly recommended:
There were several other museums which I didn’t visit, but I was impressed with their overall quality not only of the material presented but how it was displayed. Again, Buenos Aires could learn a lot from Bogotá.
Bogotá series: First impressions • Architecture • Main museums • Cementerio Central