International Museum Day: 7 Fascinating Museums in South America
“Real museums are places where time is transformed into space.” ― Orhan Pamuk
Museums are places of contemplation for people around the world. No matter what interests you, you’re likely to find something compelling and worthy of your attention in any museum you visit. To appreciate museums’ value to society, we’ve even dedicated a day to celebrate their existence: International Museum Day!
In honor of this holiday, let’s learn about some of the most amazing museums in South America. Get ready to fuel your wanderlust—you’re definitely going to want to see these museums with your own eyes!
What is International Museum Day?
Since 1977, the International Council of Museums (ICOM) has organized International Museum Day (IMD). It was officially established with the adoption of a resolution during the ICOM General Assembly in Moscow to create an annual event with the aim of unifying the creative aspirations of museums. The objective of this holiday is to raise awareness about the cultural importance of museums. After all, they promote cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures, and development of mutual understanding and peace among people.
This holiday takes place on May 18. All participating museums plan creative activities related to the theme of the year and open their doors to whoever wants to go. These activities can last a day, a weekend or an entire week; themes from past editions include:
This year’s theme is Museums for Equality: Diversity and Inclusion, and the idea is to celebrate the diversity of perspectives from each museum’s community and staff. Because this event has gained popularity around the world, more and more museums participate and publish their activities on ICOM’s official interactive map. In fact, in 2018 more than 37,000 museums participated in over 158 countries including Mexico, the United States, Spain, Germany, Greece, and Belgium.
Wonderful Museums in Suramerica
The IMD was founded in Europe; however, many museums in South America have joined the initiative. Museums on this continent are full of cultural wealth and will definitely amaze you! They have different kinds of charm, so even if you’re not a big fan of museums, you’ll still be able to find something of interest! Plus, remember that whoever doesn’t know their history is condemned to repeat it, so you’d better get going!
Check out our list of diverse museums in South America. All of them are super interesting and unique!
1. Museo Larco – Lima, Perú
This archaeological museum was founded in 1926. It exhibits an exceptional panorama of 5,000 years of development in the history of pre-Columbian Peru. It’s surrounded by beautiful gardens and located in a unique 18th-century colonial mansion. It presents the most extraordinary collection of gold and silver from ancient Peru, as well as the famous erotic art collection, one of the most visited tourist attractions in the country.
The works of art of the Larco Museum are exhibited in the most prestigious museums in the world and considered icons of pre-Columbian art worldwide. The museum’s founder, Rafael Larco Hoyle collected its approximately 45,000 pieces. This museum receives around 120,000 visitors every year, and it’s the second most popular tourist site in Peru after Machu Picchu. If you go to Peru, you must visit this place!
2. Museo del Oro – Bogotá, Colombia
National Geographic Magazine described the Bogotá Gold Museum as one of the best history museums in the world. With 34,000 pieces of gold, it houses the largest collection of pre-Hispanic gold articles in the world, from necklaces and bracelets to masks and containers.
This museum receives around half a million visitors every year, which makes it one of the most popular attractions in Colombia. Can you imagine being in a gold mine? Well, this should be ten times better!
3. Museo Imperial, Petrópolis – Río de Janeiro, Brasil
The Imperial Museum in Rio de Janeiro is the most visited museum in Brazil, according to the Brazilian Institute of Museums. This place contains a collection from the period of the Brazilian empire (1822–1889) with around 300,000 museum, archive, and bibliographic pieces. With around 400,000 visitors per year, this museum should be on your list!
4. Museo del arte latinoamericano – Buenos Aires, Argentina
This museum is exclusively dedicated to Latin American art from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day. It’s a private museum whose permanent collection consists of about 600 works of art by some of the greatest exponents of the artistic movements in Latin America including Frida Kahlo, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Fernando Botero, and Antonio Berni.
According to TripAdvisor, it is among the 25 most popular museums in the world. Every year it receives an average of 400,000 visitors. If you go to Brazil, be sure to visit this amazing place!
5. National Museum of Fine Arts – Chile
South America’s oldest museum, Chile’s Fine Arts Museum, was founded in 1880. However, the museum moved into the Palace of the Fine Arts building in 1910, where it still resides today. The palace commemorates the country’s first centennial of independence from Spain.
In 2018, this popular museum received around 384,000 visitors! Even better, the other side of the building is the Museum of Contemporary Art. If art fascinates you, this is a great two-for-one deal!
6. Museum of Italian Art – Perú
In 1921, the Italian community of Peru donated this museum as a gift to celebrate the country’s 100th anniversary of independence from Spain. More than 200 original artworks reside here, including sculptures, paintings, prints, ceramics, and more. The museum features elements of Bramante’s architecture, as well as reliefs and decorative details inspired by Donatello, Ghiberti, Michelangelo, and Botticelli.
The façade features the coat of arms of the main Italian cities and two gigantic mosaics with notable characters in Italian history. One unique feature of this museum is its offering of guided visits for the blind. This service allows blind patrons to wear special gloves and touch the bronze and marble statues to appreciate their beauty.
7. Quito Astronomical Observatory – Ecuador
Most museums display sculptures, paintings, artifacts, and jewels. In contrast, this astronomical science building is a museum educating the public on observatory technology and general astronomy. It’s the oldest observatory in Latin America and its design was based on the observatory in Bonn, Germany. Owned by the National Polytechnic School of Ecuador, its exhibits relate to astronomy research, education, and training.
Here you can investigate the peculiar and little-studied equatorial skies! The museum uses cutting-edge technology for its guided tour. The rooms have touchscreen monitors on which visitors can find information. In addition, it has an interactive system for kids to expand their understanding of the elements of the solar system in a fun way. If you’re into technology and are curious about what happens in space, this is the perfect museum for you!
These are just a few of the most recognized, must-see museums in South America. It’s amazing to see how each one of them is so unique and rich! Do you know of any others to add to the list? Learning about and visiting museums is the perfect opportunity to start practicing your Spanish. Take a free class at Homeschool Spanish Academy, and our teachers will help you improve your Spanish for your next trip! ¡Vamos al museo!
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