No matter what you’re into–from modern art to antique textiles to classic cars–there’s a museum full of it in Lima, Peru. Here are 9 top museums in this buzzing capital city that are sure to satisfy the cultural traveler in you.
9 top museums in Lima, PeruPre-Columbian bounty: Museo Larco (Larco Museum, 35 soles or about US$10), in Lima’s Pueblo Libre neighborhood, combines a bucolic and historic setting with an impressive collection. Founded in 1926, the museum has more than 45,000 pre-Columbian artifacts from ancient Peruvian cultures including pottery, paintings, pre-Incan jewelry, masks, mummies, erotic art, and more. A curated selection of items is displayed in a restored Viceroyalty mansion surrounded by gardens. Thousands more exquisite pieces are displayed less-ceremoniously on metal shelves in a jam-packed storage room that’s open to the public. Don’t miss it. There’s also a lovely indoor/outdoor café on site and an excellent gift shop. As an overall experience, this is one of our favorite museums in Lima and in South America in general.
A deep dive into textiles: Even if you’re not that into textiles, plan a visit to the Amano Museo Textil Precolombino (Amano Pre-Columbian Textile Museum, 30 soles or about US$8) in the Miraflores neighborhood of Lima. What started as a personal passion has become one of the most specific and surprising museums in Lima. There are now more than 500 pieces in the collection and excellent restoration work and world-class displays do justice to the intricate designs and techniques. Exhibits showing raw materials and dying techniques add to an overall understanding of Peruvian textile arts. Guided tours are available for those who want to learn even more.
Pop culture and fashion: Peru can boast one of the world’s most famous fashion and celebrity portrait photographers in the world and the Museo MATE (MATE Museum, 10 soles or about US$2.75), in the hip Barranco neighborhood of Lima, is devoted to exhibiting the work of Mario Testino. A handful of rooms feature enormous prints of his shots of cultural icons (Princess Diana) and supermodels (Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss), but the most striking images are his loving portraits of members of Peru’s indigenous groups in their traditional dress shot as high fashion in the high Andes. One room is devoted to rotating exhibitions and there’s a relaxing coffee shop and a very chic store on site.
A historic home for colonial art: A few doors down from the MATE Museum, you’ll find the Museo Pedro de Osma (Pedro de Osma Museum, 30 soles or about US$8, bilingual guides are available free of charge with prior reservation) where a large collection of colonial religious art is displayed in the architecturally stunning historic home of lawyer, newspaperman, and politician Pedro de Osma.
Ever-changing modern art: Also in the Barranco neighborhood, head to the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (Museum of Contemporary Art, aka MAC, 20 soles or about US$5.30) for a quick hit of what’s going on in the innovative modern art scene in Peru and the region. Rotating exhibitions ensure there’s always something new to see. Pause for a coffee, drink, or snack in the museum’s peaceful garden café and the well-curated museum gift shop is a good source of souvenirs and take-home gifts.
A bit of everything: The Museo de Arte de Lima (Lima Museum of Art, aka MALI, 30 soles or about US$8), in the city’s downtown area, is home to an impressive pre-Columbian collection. Located in the Palace of Expositions building, which was completed in 1972, this is the best museum in Lima for those who want to see a little bit of everything in one architecturally important space. There’s religious art from the Spanish colonial period, work from modern Peruvian artists, furniture, ceramics, and more.
Treasures from the past: The Museo Nacional de Arquelogia, Anthropolíga, y Historia del Peru (National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology, and History of Peru, 10 soles or about US$2.75), claims to be the first and largest public museum in Peru. The museum’s collection includes more than 300,000 pieces, dating back to pre-Hispanic times, with curated selections displayed in a distinctly yellow mansion that blends colonial and republican architectural styles. Collections include bones and mummies, ceramics, textiles, wooden items, woven items, weapons, and more found throughout the country. This museum is also where you’ll find many of the most stunning archeological finds in the country including Raimondii stele (pictured above right) from the Chavin archaeological site.
An impressive classic car collection: It’s worth the short trip outside of Lima to visit the Museo de Autos Nicolini (Nicolini Auto Museum, 20 soles or about US$5) where Jorge Nicolini has purchased, restored, and exhibited more than 100 classic cars dating back to 1901. It’s fair to say that there’s no other collection quite like it in South America. Highlights include a 1915 Wanderer which is believed to be the only one left in the world.
Living history: Casa de Aliaga (30 soles or about US$8 per person to enter and every group must also have their own guide, reservations a must) is one of just a handful of surviving colonial mansions, but that’s not all that makes this place unique. Built in 1535 after Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro founded Lima and bequeathed a plot of land to his co-conquistador, Jeronimo de Aliaga Ramirez, this mansion has been inhabited by members of the Aliaga family ever since. That’s 17 generations and counting! Rooms in the multi-level structure, located just off Lima’s main plaza, are filled with pristine antiques and exhibit colonial and republican architectural styles. During your tour, you may even catch a glimpse of members of the Aliaga family who are currently living in this one-of-a-kind mansion museum.
Ready to explore more? There are many modes of transport around Peru, including planes, rental cars, and buses, and Rome2Rio helps travelers find the best option to get where they want to go.
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