Museo de la Nación, Av. Javier Prado Este 2466, San Borja - entrance $3.20 - Tel: +51 (01) 4769878 (www.inc.gob.pe)
If you are interested in delving into the complicated history of Peru’s ancient civilizations, the Museo de la Nación is not to be missed. This museum, the city’s biggest and one of the most prominent in Peru, guides visitors through the highlights of overlapping and conquering cultures and their achievements, seen not only in architecture (including scale models of most major ruins in Peru), but also in highly advanced ceramics and textiles. The exhibits, spread over three rambling floors, are ordered chronologically and thus very helpful for getting a grip on these many cultures dispersed across time and space. They trace the art and history of Peruvian cultures from the earliest inhabitants up to the Inca Empire, the last before colonization by the Spaniards. For the most part, explanations accompanying the exhibits are in both Spanish and English. Allow 2 to 3 hours for your visit.
Museo de Arqueología, Antropología e Historia, Plaza Bolívar, Pueblo Libre – entrance $2 - Tel: +51 (01) 463 5070 (http://museonacional.perucultural.org.pe/)
This is the country’s oldest state museum, and traces Peru’s history from the pre-Ceramic period to Independence. Once the home of revolutionary figures San Martin (1821) and Bolivar (from 1823 to 1826), the museum now houses some spectacular archeological artifacts, such as the stelae and obelisks from Chavin, and displays scale models of important archeological sites, as well as late-colonial and early republican-era paintings, furnishings, and independence artifacts.
Museo Arqueológico Rafael Larco Herrera, Av. Bolívar 1515, Pueblo Libre – entrance $8 – Tel +51 (01) 461 1312 (www.museolarco.org)
For those fascinated by pre-Columbian art, this is the ideal place to visit while in Lima. Founded in 1926, the museum has the largest private collection of pre-Columbian art in the world, and has recently undergone a facelift, both physically and in terms of the information provided within. It concentrates on the Moche Dynasty, especially on its refined ceramics, with an estimated 45,000 pieces - including incredibly fine textiles, jewelry, and stonework from several other ancient cultures - all housed in a wonderfully restored 18th-century colonial building. The collection might be overwhelming to visitors who know little about the Moche, but one soon learns that the pottery gives clues to all elements of their society: diseases, curing practices, architecture, transportation, dance, agriculture, music, and religion. Plan on spending 2 hours to see it all.
There is also an attractive on-site restaurant, Café del Museo, located in the museum’s front gardens under a flower laden gazebo, so you may want to plan for lunch or an early dinner during your visit.
Museo del Banco Central de Reserva, Corner of Lampa and Ucayali Streets, Lima Centro – free entrante – +51 (01) 613 2000 (http://museobcr.perucultural.org.pe/)
A less visited museum with excellent and varied collections. The museum’s holdings are organized into three sections: archaeology, numismatist collection, and contemporary Peruvian paintings. There is an also an exceptional ceramic collection from the pre-Inca Vicus culture. Contemporary Peruvian painters are very well represented here, also.
Sala Museo de Oro del Perú, Level 2 Larcomar, Miraflores – entrance $10 - +51 (01) 620 622 (www.salamuseo.com)
The Sala Museo Oro del Perú specializes in stunning objects made of gold and other precious metals, from the pre-Incan northern cultures of Peru: Sican, Chimu and Lambayeque. This is also the only museum in Lima that provides all visitors with a multilingual audio guide free of charge upon entry.
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