A Day at the Gold Museum

Gold Museum

Sundays are lazy days in Bogotá. Many places are closed and there is little to no traffic on the streets – quite the contrast to the traffic jams that occur during the week.

Museums, however, are one of the few places open on a Sunday, and the Gold Museum (Museo del Oro) is even free on Sundays, making it one of my favorite plans on this idle day.

The Gold Museum in Bogotá has the largest collection in the world of pre-Hispanic gold artifacts. The collection and museum began with one piece called the  Poporo Quimbaya  in 1939. It is a lime container found in Antioquia in the 19th century and is an imitation of a gourd, whose rounded features were associated with the female body. This relic has been a symbol of the museum ever since its opening.

Poporo Quimbaya

In addition to the extensive gold pieces, the museum also has many more indigenous artifacts made from stone, emeralds, and wood, among others. The collection consists of about 55,000 artifacts, although only 6,000 usually remain on display.

The majority of the museum is made up of permanent displays, but they also sometimes have temporary exhibits. Some of the most recent were one about Mayan society and culture and one about imperial Chinese dragons, an exhibition from a museum in Shanghai.

If you’re in Bogotá and haven’t yet been to the Gold Museum, or even if you just haven’t gone in a while, I highly recommend going one Sunday. For those of you who are in other parts of the country and world, here are some photos from my most recent trip to the museum to give you a mini tour:

Finely crafted gold helmet

Stone and gem jewelry

“Because of its golden, shiny skin and its aggressiveness, astuteness, and vitality, the jaguar was associated with the regenerating powers of gold and the sun. It was also typically a male symbol.”

Typical chieftain decoration

Stone figure

“This sumptuously-attired female chieftain has adopted a solemn, engrossed attitude. Shamans, chieftains, potters, and goldsmiths performed rituals to ensure that the cyclical processes of nature would continue.”


3 thoughts on “A Day at the Gold Museum

  1. Great overview. The Museo del Oro is listed in the book 1000 Places To See Before You Die. I went on a Sunday once and was hoping to join a public tour, but I didn’t recall a docent being available on the free day. It’s definitely worth seeing it.

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