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Museums in Bogotá: discover the city through art and culture

Museum Miguel Urrutia facade
Lucía Carbonell

Lucía Carbonell

I'm Lucía, although I prefer to be called Lou. I’m an anthropologist and currently studying for a masters degree in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution. I enjoy creative writing –every now and then I write little stories, mostly for myself, but sometimes for others too–, going to the cinema, theater, and concerts. My camera is my partner occasionally as I know a bit about photography. I also love getting to know places through art, and especially through street art. And last but no least, I am crazy about tattoos and my dog Janis.

Like every big city, Bogotá is where traditions, art, and stories from around the country and the world meet up to create a cosmopolitan metropolis. That is why the city offers you plenty of museums to get in touch with Colombian and Latin American culture from many different perspectives. This article will lead you through a few museums in Bogotá you can’t miss.  

The National Museum of Colombia

Art in Bogotá
© Photograph by Bogota Bike Tours from Flickr

This museum is the perfect place to have a first approach to Colombian culture as it mixes art, archeology, and history all together. It has many permanent exhibitions that allow you to learn about Colombia’s political history, about the several cultures that inhabit the territory, and how they have influenced the development of the country we have the chance to appreciate today. There are many halls that give you the opportunity of discovering this through archaeological remains and ethnographic collections. You can even see a simulation of a prehispanic tomb to have an idea of the traditions and world views from pre-Columbian cultures.  

The museum also counts on a huge art collection from Colombian artists, such as Alejandro Obregón, Enrique Grau, and Beatriz González. On top of that, this place opens its doors for temporary exhibitions from Colombian and foreign artists, photographers, and researchers. Finally, as if it were not enough, the National Museum offers you a great number of activities like concerts, colloquiums, talks, and workshops about different topics that take place almost every day. As a frequent visitor of this museum, I must say it has become one of my favorite places to go every time I am looking for an approach towards art, culture, music, or history. It has so many activities and exhibitions to offer and about so many different subjects, that going there never gets old.

The National Museum is open every day from Tuesday to Sunday and has free entrance on Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about entrance fees, exhibitions, and activities check out the National Museum’s website.

Check out my article exclusively dedicated to this museum here.

Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá

Art exhibition
© Photograph by Karl Schultz from Flickr

The Museum of Modern Art of Bogotá, MAMBO, works as a platform for exhibiting great examples of contemporary art from Colombia and many other countries. This museum doesn’t have any permanent exhibitions, so every time you visit it, you will see a completely different space. From regular photography to art displays, artistic installations and cultural activities are some of the things you might find on one of your visits. MAMBO is the right place to find works of art and different kinds of cultural initiatives that challenge the boundaries of what we think about art. Going to museums can be sometimes a dull activity, but I personally enjoy visiting this one as it doesn’t feel like one at all; it feels more like space where artists, social organizations, and cultural collectives can explore and play.

It is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 12 m to 5 p.m. If you want more information about MAMBO, you can check their website.

Museo de Arte Miguel Urrutia

Art installation
© Photograph by Leonardo from Flickr

Artistic installation by Los Carpinteros, exhibited at MAMU in 2017.  © Photograph by Leonardo from Flickr

This art museum, MAMU, is located downtown, in the historical neighborhood of La Candelaria, right in front of the Luis Angel Arango Library and the Botero Museum. Its permanent collection exhibits emblematic works of art from European, Latin American, and Colombian artists. This impressive collection gathers paintings and sculptures from the 16th century to contemporary pieces. Here you can find artworks made by the satirical Colombian artist, Antonio Caro, the Spanish artist, Juan Antonio Roda, who is the master of kinetic art, the Argentinian, Julio Le Parc, and many others. Besides the permanent collection, the MAMU has a space for temporary exhibitions, inviting contemporary artists and photographers from around the world.    

Moreover, if you are bored with the format of typical exhibitions, MAMU offers a revolutionary space for you to participate in. El parqueadero (the parking lot) is a space created for artistic experimentation. This laboratory, where performances and videos are also exhibited, gives you the chance to be part of the process of artwork creation. For me, MAMU is an excellent place to visit. When I’ve visited it, I’ve been overwhelmed by the temporary exhibitions because of their incredible artistic quality. Nowadays, MAMU has become an even more exciting place for me as I can be a part of the experimental processes of creation that transgress the typical relationship that separates the artwork from spectators.  

On their website, you can find more information about MAMU, its exhibitions, and activities.

Museo del Oro

Museum exposition in Bogotá
© Photograph by Sura Ark from Flickr

The Gold Museum must be one of the most famous places to visit in Bogotá. Although its name makes us think it’s just a place where prehistoric goldsmithing pieces are shown, this museum is much more than that. It has an impressive permanent collection of ceramic, lithic, wood crafted and goldsmithing pieces that are so beautifully displayed, that every hall is a work of art by itself. This museum has accomplished the extraordinary task of studying the symbolic, economic, and cultural value each of these pieces had for the prehispanic people that crafted them as well as understanding its worldviews. Here you can also learn with detail how the pieces were made and discover the remarkable technical knowledge prehispanic cultures had.

Additionally, nowadays this museum has temporary exhibitions that expand its archeological focus. In these halls, you can have an approach to Colombia’s contemporary cultural diversity where indigenous and afro-descendants have the leading role. I personally enjoy this museum because it’s a remarkable effort that shows the importance of studying the material culture and worldviews of prehispanic cultures as well as today’s Colombian ethnic groups.

For additional information about the Gold Museum, check their website.

This was just a brief sneak peek on Bogota’s museums. There are so many others you can visit. But as you can see with these examples, Bogotá is a great place to have experiences around art, history, and culture, and it gives you countless and diverse ways of doing it.

For more information about other interesting art exhibitions in Bogotá read our article about ARTBO WEEKEND and Undiscovered Museums.

Have you visited any of these museums yet? We would love to read the experiences you had at these museums or any other you visited in Bogota! Share and/or comment on this article, and visit our homepage to find more information about Bogotá.

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