A stunning array of gold artifacts at the Gold Museum

Bogotá, Colombia’s vibrant capital city, is a museum-lover’s paradise, with upwards of 50 museums covering every imaginable aspect of Colombian culture. On our recent visit, we made it to two: the world-famous Gold Museum (or in Spanish “El Museo del Oro”), and the National Museum, which we stumbled on quite by accident on a New Year’s Eve stroll through downtown Bogotá.

Museo del Oro
Ask visitors to name their highlights of a trip to Bogotá, and they’ll always say, “Don’t miss the Gold Museum!” It’s the showcase for more than 55,000 priceless archaeological and artistic treasures from each of Colombia’s many pre-Colombian indigenous groups. We’re told that only a fraction of the artifacts can be displayed at any one time, and it’s the largest collection of its type in the world. It took us almost four hours to go through all of the exhibits, and the audio tour is well worth it, adding details that aren’t available in the exhibits themselves (which are described in both Spanish and English). The museum charts the history of an incredibly rich and vibrant culture that existed before Europeans set foot in the Americas, stressing the importance of goldcraft in the daily lives of these ancient ones. 

Hours: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday
Admission: $3 (you read that right!) with an additional $5 for the audio tour

A conch shell painstakingly covered in gold foil by a craftsman who lived thousands of years ago. If you look closely you can see little creases in the foil and little pins holding it in place.
Ceremonial masks in solid gold
Breastplates depicting various dieties
A solid gold breastplate
This exhibit had its own vault doors, but we’re not sure why – the artifacts were no more splendid than in any of the other rooms.
A fully outfitted warrier, ready for battle
The Gold Museum also has a priceless collection of pre-Colombian ceramic pieces
Another ceramic piece with ceremonial feathers
Another fabulous breastplate

Here is a great short YouTube video that captures it well:

 Museo Nacional de Colombia

The National Museum is Colombia’s biggest and is also one of the oldest museums in South America, housed in the Panóptico prison built in 1823. This fortress-like building operated as a prison right up until 1946, and it’s

The National Museum of Colombia

easy to imagine the hopelessness of being incarcerated in one of the tiny cells and cellblocks, most of which have been converted to bright and airy galleries for a dazzling display of history and art exhibits from every era. There are a sizable number of Botero paintings here (if you don’t know the name Fernando Botero, he’s a living national treasure and one of Colombia’s most celebrated artists), along with pre-Colombian artifacts dating back to 10,000 BC.

We were surprised to find the museum open on New Year’s Eve, and so glad we stumbled on it. It’s an absolute must-see!

Hours: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday
Admission: the bank-breaking cost of $2, free on Sundays

One of the cellblocks, now housing artwork
Inner courtyard
A fabulous multimedia exhibit on the evolution of Colombian culture
“Mulata Cartagenera” by Enrique Grau. Isn’t she lovely? 
“Frutos de mi Tierra” by Domingo Moreno Otero
Simon Bolivar’s bridle. The poor horse – doesn’t it look uncomfortable?
Botero’s Oranges
The sculpture hall
A beautiful lady captured in marble
Pre-colombian burial casket. After a period of time the body was cremated and the ashes were interred in ceramic urns.
Burial urns 

Bogotá was a revelation to us in so many ways. We’ll be blogging more soon about our holiday trip to Cartagena, Medellin, and Bogotá – stay tuned.


  1. Aren’t we all lucky to see the magical places John and Susan visit ! ! !

    Thank you for sharing!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      You’ll love it, Jane! You’re headed to Colombia at the end of the year? We’d love to meet up, somehow.

  2. We went on a Sunday. It is FREE on Sundays! That however also means it is very, very crowded. It might be worth the entrance fee on another day.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      The Gold was pretty crowded the day we were there, also – and it wasn’t Sunday. But it was right before New Year’s, which might have been a factor. I guess there’s no predicting the crowds!

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