13 Coolest Museums in Latin America: Artifacts, History, and More
Latin American museums are awesome and full of surprises—many are connected to the pre-Columbian cultures that first inhabited those territories. For example, if you go to Mexico you will find Aztec artifacts, when visiting Guatemala you can find Mayan hieroglyphs, and upon arriving in Peru you can learn about the history of the Inca.
In this article, you will find a list of the coolest museums in Latin America. You will see I am recommending one museum per country to offer you a reference guide.
PRO TIP: Since Latin American Currencies vary from country to country, you might want to check this article out to get acquainted with each one of them.
1. National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City, Mexico
- Location: Paseo de la Reforma s/n avenue, Polanco, Bosque de Chapultepec I Secc, Miguel Hidalgo, 11560 Mexico City
- Main feature: Hosting antique pieces belonging to the three cultures that inhabited Mexico before the Spanish conquest
Mexico is a country that has it all, tacos, spicy food, soccer stadiums, theaters, and a lot of museums. While Mexico City hosts several contemporary art museums, if you feel like checking out a place in which you can find a lot of Maya, Mexica and Aztec artifacts, El museo nacional de antropología (The National Museum of Anthropology) is the place to go to!
El museo nacional de antropología is any museum-lover’s dream. Besides being beautiful, it is also enormous, and checking it all out will take you at least two days. You’ll be able to see El mundo de los mayas (The world of the Mayans) by Leonora Carrington, and Mapa de Mesoamérica (Middle America Map) by Ernesto Vázquez and Luis Covarrubias.
If you have the time to visit it all, you’ll only spend 3.22 USD (64 Mexican pesos) per day, and if you do it on a weekend, you won’t have to pay the entrance fee on Sunday.
2. Popol Vuh Museum, Guatemala City, Guatemala
- Location: 6 Calle Final Zona 10 Interior Universidad Ciudad de Guatemala, 01010, Guatemala
- Main feature: Its Mayan artifacts and location, and surroundings
While the Mayans inhabited parts of Mexico, Belize, El Salvador, and Honduras, many consider Guatemala as the crib of the Maya civilization. That’s why if you want to learn about the Mayans, visiting Guatemala is a must.
The Popol Vuh museum takes its place from the most important book in Mayan history. This Latin American museum belongs to La Universidad Francisco Marroquín (the Francisco Marroquín University) and it’s inside their campus, one of the prettiest campuses in Guatemala City.
Here you’ll be able to see arte prehispánico (prehispanic art) and find Mayan artifacts placed in chronological order up until the Spanish conquest, and viceregal art, where you’ll find golden and silver artifacts, as well as religious images that the Spanish made up until 1821 when Guatemala became independent.
The Popol Vuh Museum is also a Hispanic virtual museum. The physical museum opens weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and remains closed on Sundays. The entrance fee is 5.81 USD (45 quetzales) and 1.94 USD extra (15 quetzales) if you want to bring your camera with you.
PRO TIP: Take an Uber to the University to avoid paying the parking lot fee.
3. Museo de la Revolución, La Habana, Cuba
- Location: Refugio Street 1, between Monserrate and Zulueta, Av. Bélgica, La Habana 10600, Cuba
- Main feature: Thanks to its architecture, Cubans declared it National Monument
If the Cuban revolution is something that interests you, look no further. El museo de la revolución has got three floors worth of Cuban history.
In la planta baja (the lobby or first floor) you can find a contemporary Cuban room with content that starts from 1990 up until today. But you can also find out and learn about the Cuban presidents who ruled the island between 1920 and 1965.
Up on el primer piso (the second floor), you’ll learn all about the Cuban revolution. 30 years (1959-1989) worth of Cuban history that explains the main socio-economic transformation that Cuba suffered.
You’ll also find five more rooms:
|Hall of mirrors||El salón de los espejos|
|Golden hall||El salón dorado|
|Presidential office||El despacho presidencial|
|The hall of the ministers’ council||El salón del consejo de ministros|
El segundo piso (the third floor) will take you through the Spanish colony, from 1492 when Colombus discovered the Americas, up until 1898 in the Spanish-American war. But this Hispanic museum has more elements related to the Cuban revolution there too.
The entrance fee is 0.42 USD (10 Cuban pesos) and the Museum opens from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
4. Museo de Oro Precolombino, San José, Costa Rica
- Location: Bajos de la Plaza de la Cultura. Avenida Central. Calle 5 San José Centro San José CR 10104, Av. Central, San José, Costa Rica
- Main feature: The Costa Rican indigenous tribes’ mythology.
El museo de oro precolombino (The pre-Columbian gold museum) is “the best museum in Costa Rica thanks to its infrastructure, how organized it is, and the clarity with which they exhibit the materials,” said Alejandro Campos, a Costa Rican student who visited the museum over 5 times. I had the opportunity to visit it in my 12-hour stay in Costa Rica and it was fascinating.
The Museum has 4 floors and you have to go all the way to the bottom floor to start. There, you will find several golden artifacts that many pre-Columbian tribes handcrafted. Visiting the museum will take you roughly two or three hours and you will learn a lot, not only about gold but about all the biodiversity that Costa Rica has to offer, the Costa Rican indigenous tribes’ mythology (in an amazingly peculiar language), Costa Rican contemporary art, and the history of Costa Rica’s currency.
The museum is open every day from 9:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the entrance fee is 15 USD (9,000 colones.)
5. Biomuseo, Panama City, Panama
- Location: Calz. de Amador 136, Panamá
- Main feature: Frank Gehry’s green, yellow, blue, red and orange architecture representing Panama’s biodiversity.
El biomuseo (the biomuseum) in Panama City is a Natural History Museum and it tells the story of how the Isthmus surged 3 million years ago, dividing the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. This famous Hispanic museum is relatively new, because it opened in 2014, and it has 8 different galleries divided into 43,055 sq ft (4,000 sq m).
The 8 galleries you can find here are:
|The gallery of biodiversity||La galería de la biodiversidad|
|The bridge rises||El puente surge|
|The great exchange||El gran intercambio|
|The human print||La huella humana|
|Divided oceans||Océanos divididos|
|The living net||La red viviente|
|Panama is the museum||Panamá es el museo|
Additionally, you can find temporary expositions and outside you can explore el parque de la biodiversidad (The biodiversity’s park.)
This Latin American Museum opens on weekends only from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and the entrance fee for foreigners is 18 USD (18 Balboas.)
6. Quito Astronomical Observatory, Quito, Ecuador
- Location: Av Gran Colombia y 10 de Agosto. Dentro del Parque de la Alameda., Av. Gran Colombia, Quito 170136, Ecuador
- Main feature: The QAO lets you use telescopes to see the stars.
El museo astronómico de Quito (Quito Astronomical Museum) is an out-of-this-world Latin American museum!
Here you can find interesting astronomical artifacts divided in 8 halls:
|Cross of the South Hall||Sala Cruz del Sur|
|Hidra Hall||Sala Hidra|
|Andromeda Hall||Sala Andrómeda|
|Orion Hall||Sala Orión|
|Tauro Hall||Sala Tauro|
|Scorpio Hall||Sala Escorpión|
|Centaurus Hall||Sala Centauro|
|Canis Mayoris Hall||Sala Can Mayor|
This Latin American museum opens from Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. The entrance fee is 2 USD.
But if you feel like seeing the stars from the middle of planet Earth you can visit the museum between June and August every Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and use telescopes and binoculars to see the stars for 3 USD.
7. Museo Del Oro, Bogotá, Colombia
- Location: Cra. 6 #15-88, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia
- Main feature: 34,000 goldsmith pieces
Colombia is a beautiful country in South America, it has excellent food, beautiful cities and islands and even, a nice slang. El museo del oro (the museum of gold) is highly impressive because, throughout its 4 galleries, it possesses over 34,000 goldsmith objects, plus 20,000 other handcrafts that are as old as 2,500 years.
Visiting its 4 galleries can take you about two hours. The schedules of this Latin American museum are from Tuesday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the entrance fee is 1.06 USD (4,000 Colombian pesos).
8. Larco Museum, Lima, Peru
- Location: Av. Simón Bolívar 1515, Pueblo Libre 15084, Perú
- Main feature: Peruvian and Inca artifacts
El museo arqueológico Rafael Larco (The archeological museum Rafael Larco) is “an excellent museum” says Colombian history student, Daniel Gutiérrez, who visited it. But it’s not only Daniel’s words but the Latin American museum’s facts back up these claims.
In the Larco museum, you can find galleries that show pre-Columbian Peru, up to 5,000 years in the past. This museum is present in both Lima and Cusco, and obviously, each one is different.
The galleries are:
|Gold and Silver Gallery||La galería oro y plata|
|Cultures Gallery||La galería Las Culturas|
|Lithic Gallery||La galería lítica|
|Ceramics Gallery||La galería de ceramios|
|Metal gallery||La galería de metales|
|Textile gallery||La galería de textiles|
|The deposit||El depósito|
To enter the museum, the entrance fee is 8.86 USD (35 soles.) The museum opens from Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays it opens from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
9. Museo De Los Niños, Caracas, Venezuela
- Location: Av. Bolívar, Caracas 1015, Distrito Capital, Venezuela
- Main feature: Being kid friendly and non-lucrative
El museo de los niños (The kids’ museum) in Venezuela is one famous Hispanic museum dedicated to children. Its moto maravillosa realidad (wonderful reality) and facilities make you want to become a kid again.
In this museum children can learn by experimenting and playing with many things, you can find ten different areas in which to learn about:
|A great box of colors (art room)||Una gran caja de colores (sala de arte)|
|Communication and art||Comunicación y arte|
|General physics||Física general|
|Little museum on wheels||Museito sobre ruedas|
|Sciences of life (biology and ecology)||Ciencias de la vida (biología y ecología)|
|Space conquest||Conquista del espacio|
|The emotion of living||La emoción de vivir|
|Trip to a wonderful country||Viaje a un país maravilloso|
This kid-friendly museum opens from Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The entrance fee for kids and adults is 120,000,000 Bolívares.
PRO TIP: Check the conversion rate daily, since the inflation in Venezuela is highly irregular and the number here will vary every day.
10. Museo Casa de la Libertad, Sucre, Bolivia
- Location: Pl. 25 de Mayo, Sucre, Bolivia
- Main feature: Being where Bolivians signed their independence
El museo casa de la libertad (The house of Liberty museum) is in the Bolivian capital and it is highly historical, since Bolivians signed their independence in this very building in 1825 and wrote their constitution there, too.
In this Hispanic museum, you can find historical artifacts as well as paintings all throughout its diverse sections, which might take you around two hours to explore.
|Guerrilla room||Sala de los guerrilleros|
|Honor room||Sala de honor|
|Independence hall||Salón de la independencia|
|Presidents’ gallery||Galería de los presidentes|
|Signers room||Sala de los firmantes|
|Sucre marshall room||Sala del Mariscal Sucre|
|Viceregal room||Sala virreinal|
The entrance fee to this museum for foreigners is 2.18 USD (15 Bolivianos) and the museum opens on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
FUN FACT: Many people believe that Bolivia’s capital is La Paz, but its constitutional capital is Sucre.
11. National Museum of Fine Arts, Santiago, Chile
- Location: José Miguel de La Barra 650, Santiago, Región Metropolitana, Chile
- Main feature: Its beautiful architecture
In Santiago, you can find a famous Hispanic museum, El museo nacional de bellas artes (the National Museum of fine arts). This is the first art museum in Latin America since Chileans established it in 1880. In this museum, you can find more than 5,000 art pieces around its 64,583 sq ft (6,000 sq m.)
This is great to visit if you want to explore some Chilean artists and different pieces of art that go back to the Spanish colony up until today.
The best part of this beauty is that since 2015 there is no entrance fee. You can access the museum from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
12. Museo de Arqueología de Alta Montaña, Salta, Argentina
- Location: Bartolomé Mitre 77, A4400 Salta, Argentina
- Main feature: Its well-preserved mummies
El Museo de Arqueología de Alta Montaña (The High Mountain Archeological Museum – MAAM) is a Latin American museum that “is terrific” according to Agustina Vasvári, an Argentine medicine student who has visited the museum 3 times. “The coolest part,” she says, “is where the mummies are because they’re well preserved.”
In this museum, in the Llullaillaco collection, you can find the “mummies” of three children who the Inca sacrificed to the homonymous volcano in Argentina. You can also find:
- Queen of the Hill’s room – La sala La Reina del Cerro
- Qhapaq Ñam room – La sala Qhapaq Ñam
- Orco Kawkachun Sample – La muestra Orco Kawkachun
This Latin American museum opens from Tuesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.and the entrance fee is 4 USD (400 Argentine pesos.) But be sure to make a reservation before you visit it since it’s mandatory doing so.
13. Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales, Montevideo, Uruguay
- Location: Av Tomas Giribaldi 2283, 11300 Montevideo, Departamento de Montevideo, Uruguay
- Main feature: The biggest collection of painting and sculptures in Uruguay
If you feel like getting to know Uruguayan artists this Latin American museum is your shot. The 109-year-old museum hosts around 6,500 pieces from many famous Uruguayan artists. They also have temporary exhibitions of foreign artists too.
It has 6 salas (exposition rooms) including the Conference room. Additionally, it has a library, a garden, and a cafeteria.
This Latin American museum opens its doors from Tuesday to Sunday from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. and there is no entrance fee.
Learn Some Spanish Before Visiting Latin American Museums
Did you notice that I mentioned 13 different countries in this piece? Well, I still missed 8 countries that officially speak Spanish, 6 of which are in Latin America, totaling 21 countries that speak Spanish around the world.
Sign up for a free Spanish class today and open the doors to more than 572 million people who speak Spanish around the globe, 53 million of whom live in the US. Improve your cognition and decision-making abilities to learn more in each museum you visit and even, get a better paycheck to travel all throughout Latin America and visit all the museums you want.
After your free Spanish class, you’ll be delighted to learn that we offer 25-minute lessons (or 50-minute lessons if you prefer), with flexible scheduling, earned high school credit, and different payment options! Don’t delay your trip to Latin America any longer and start learning Spanish today!
PRO TIP: If you still can’t visit Latin America due to COVID restrictions or any other reason, you can get acquainted with the Hispanic culture by visiting Hispanic museums in the US.
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