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The Gold Museum: Time Travel to a Pre-Colombian Tale

Gold Museum

With more than 50.000 pieces and 6.000 on display, the Gold Museum is a must in Bogotá, a place to go back in time to the indigenous pre columbian culture and why gold was so relevant to them.

Is amazing how much information you can get when visiting cultural and historical places. If you are looking for something to do and you want to know more about Bogotá’s culture then here is everything you need to know to go and immerse yourself in one of the most visited and recognized museums downtown.

Right next to the iconic Avianca building, the Gold Museum is home to more than 30.000 goldsmith pieces and 2.500 years in culture, history and artisanal metalsmith which tell an amazing story on how metals and specially gold became a gorgeous way of expressing beliefs of the ingenous people in pre-hispanic times. 

What you will see

The Gold Museum was founded back in 1939 when the Poporo, (a device used by natives in present and pre-columbian times to store small amounts of lime produced from sea shells) was acquired by the Central bank of Colombia and this is how the collection came alive. 

Poporo / © Photograph by Alejandra Caicedo    

           

Back in time as part of their cosmology,  native people believed that gold was the materialization of the Sun as God, and so they started crafting jewelry such as earrings, rings, bracelets and everyday objects like the Quimbaya Poporo. 

There is a beauty in seeing such much detail in all the pieces and I can’t help but wonder about their beliefs in the Sun and the wanting to look like it,  the way they worshipped it and their rituals such as El Dorado in Villa de Leyva and these very special offerings to their God.

What makes it even more interesting is that most of these pieces were found in tombs, like many societies in the world there is always a hierarchy and for natives there was no difference, they had the Cacique: the gilded chieftain (male or female) who was like the big boss and the tradition was to have his/her belongings buried with him/her as part of the death ritual. 

The Gold Museum
Armor © Photograph by Alejandra Caicedo

The Museum

Divided into 4 different floors, the construction is an award winning building and was the first building in Colombia with the intent of housing a museum (most museums in Bogotá and Colombia are very old buildings and churches). 

The first floor is where the Gift shop, restaurant, information and ticket office are located. 

The basement is for temporary exhibitions and the auditorium with interactive videos about myths and legends that are also very fascinating.

The second floor is for the working of metals and People and Gold galleries: divided into halls for every culture such as Quimbaya, Muisca, Tairona and more, videos recreating the process of lost-wax casting for the making of each unique piece are engaging. And information related to the meaning of gold in politics and religion for the natives.

The third floor is for Cosmology and Symbolism, where birds like parrots are used in sacrifices, pumas are presented as the King of the Jungle, and The Shaman (spiritual guide)  is very present in the offering rituals, this is what I liked the most, there is this myth about el Dorado in Guatavita lake, Villa de Leyva, if you want to know more see our article El Dorado Myth: a story that started in Guatavita where according to oral tradition and indigenous groups gold is the fertilizing energy of the Sun Father and Lakes are the Womb of Earth Mother so the Cacique would go into the lake on the Offering raft and threw gold dust into the waters to make a pack with nature for life to be reborn. 

The Gold Museum
581400The offering raft © Photograph by Alejandra Caicedo

Opening hours and entrance fee

The Gold Museum is located at Santander’s Square in Carrera 6 No. 15-88, a block away from the Gold Museum Transmilenio station.

  • The entrance fee is 4.000 COP/ 1.5 USD.
  • Monday:  Closed
  • Tuesday to Saturday: 9:00-19:00
  • Sunday: 10:00-17:00
  • The last entrance is one hour before closing

So if you want to know more about pre-Colombian art and history in Bogotá and Colombia I strongly advise you to go see it yourself, you’ll be enchanted by gold!

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