All about the National Museum of Archeology
The museum is as old as the Republic of Peru itself. Throughout its history it has changed from name to its current name: National Museum of Archeology, Anthropology and History.
Its foundation dates back to 1822, a year after the independence of Peru. General Don José de San Martín arranged its creation in the 'Palacio de la Magdalena' where viceroys and the liberators San Martín and Bolívar lived.
His first collection included hundreds of archaeological pieces in which the famous 'Estela de Raimondi' from the Chavín culture stood out. Unfortunately, in 1881 during the Chilean occupation of Lima as a result of the War of the Pacific, the museum was looted. Only the huge monolith remained in place.
Starting in the 20th century, the reorganization of the museum was in charge of important personalities such as Max Uhle, Julio César Tello and Luis E. Valcárcel. The museum is made up of the fusion of different institutions: the National Museum of Anthropology and Archeology and the National Museum of History.
It is currently merged into a single institution that has thirty rooms. The pieces exhibited and collected make it the most important historical-archaeological space in the country. Important pieces such as the 'Crossed Hands of Kotosh', the 'Tello Obelisk', paracas cloaks, canvases from the Cusco school of painting, works by the renowned painter José Gil de Castro as well as the famous 'Estela de Raimondi'.
Currently the museum is in charge of the Ministry of Culture of Peru. The collection is in charge of important personalities such as Luis Guillermo Lumbreras, Fernando Silva Santiesteban, María Rostorowski and Franklin Pease.
Peru in pre-Hispanic, colonial and republican history
The history of the museum is closely related to the history of republican Peru. Its foundation dates back to 1822 under the patronage of the liberator José de San Martín as well as important personalities of the time such as José Bernardo de Torre Tagle, Bernardo de Monteagudo and Mariano Eduardo de Rivero y Ustariz.
The place was chosen was the 'Palacio de la Magdalena' where viceroys and the liberators San Martín and Bolívar lived during their governments in Peru. The first collection consisted of donations, archaeological excavations and even purchases from private parties. These were exhibited in 1872 in the Palace of the International Exposition in Lima.
The blackest page in its history occurred in 1881 when the Chilean army looted its pieces during the War of the Pacific. However, the reorganization of the museum was rapid because in 1905 it was recast under the name of the National History Museum. One of the most important pieces that dates from that time and that was not stolen in the Chilean looting is the 'Estela de Raimondi', from the Chavín culture (1,200 AC - 400 AC).
During the 20th century, the archaeological area of the museum was in charge of Max Uhle (1905) and Julio César Tello (1911). In that year the museum had approximately 9 thousand archaeological pieces. At that time, in addition, the museum was subdivided into two independent areas: the Museum of Peruvian Archeology (archaeological part) and the Bolivarian Museum (colonial and republican part).
In 1939 these museums merged creating the 'National Museum' in charge of Luis E. Valcárcel. However, in 1945 it was divided into two again: the National Museum of Anthropology and Archeology and the National Museum of History. Both located in the Pueblo Libre palace.
Another unfortunate event occurred in 1981 when thieves stole 220 pieces of gold and silver from the museum. The final merger occurred in 1992 when the current National Museum of Archeology, Anthropology and History of Peru was created under the administration of the Ministry of Culture of Peru. Today it is considered the best and most complete cultural center in the country. Its collection includes pieces and works from ancient Peru (14 thousand BC), the colonial era and the current republican period (from 1821 AD to today).
The museum is located in the Square Bolívar, Pueblo Libre district - Lima, Peru. From the Main square de Lima, you must travel by car only about 5 kilometers. From the tourist district of Miraflores is about 7 kilometers away.
These are the permanent rooms exhibited in the museum:
Origins: It exposes the beginnings of the man of America, specifically in Peru.
Formative: Exposes the ceramic, textile and metallurgical finds from the formative period in Peru (from 2000 BC to 200 BC).
Chavín: Exposes findings of the Chavín culture, the first to maintain a firm religious idea. Its pilgrimage center is in Chavín de Huántar. The so-called 'Estela de Raimondi' stands out.
Pukara: Exposes findings of the Pukara culture, which developed in the highlands of Peru and Bolivia between 500 AD to 380 AD Its main cult was the god of water personalized by Huiracocha, the famous god of the staffs present in various cultures.
Paracas: Exposes the findings obtained (textiles, ceramics, human skulls) of the Paracas culture, which developed on the southern coast and central Andes of Peru between 800 AC and 200 DC
Nasca: Exposes a collection of textiles and ceramics belonging to the Nasca culture. This civilization developed on the southern coast and the Peruvian Andes between 100 AD and 700 AD It stands out for its fine textiles.
Regional developments: Room that exhibits a collection of ceramics from underdeveloped civilizations settled on the coast and mountains of Peru between 0 and 800 AD
Metallurgy: Room that shows a varied collection of gold and silver objects molded by the artisans of ancient Peru. Works from the Chimú and Inca cultures stand out. These objects were used mainly by the elite and in religious ceremonies.
Regional States: Rooms that exhibit ceramics, textiles, metallurgical objects from cultures that developed on the coast and mountains of Peru between 380 AD and 1450 AD For example the Tiwanaku, Chincha, Chuquibamba, Ychsma and more civilizations.
Huari: Room that through various findings explains the historical and cultural development of the Huari civilization, considered by some historians as the first imperial state of Peru. It was developed between 600 AD and 1200 AD
Chancay: Room that shows ceramic objects from the Chancay culture, located on the central coast of Peru and developed between 1,100 AD and 1,400 AD
Chimú / Lambayeque: Room that mainly exhibits ceramic pieces from the Chimú and Lambayeque cultures. Both were developed on the north coast of the country. They belong to the period defined as 'Late Intermediate' (between 700 AD and 1,400 AD). They were conquered by the Incas.
Tawantinsuyo: Room that exhibits queros, textiles, quipus and other objects belonging to the Inca empire, also called the Tahuantinsuyo empire. It was developed between 1,400 AD and 1532 AD It reached a great development. It covered part of the current territories of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Chile and Argentina.
Amazonia: Room that exhibits some archaeological and ethnographic findings that seek to explain the development achieved by Amazonian ethnic groups and cultures over more than a thousand years.
Conquest and colony: Didactic room that explains the process of conquest and imposition of the viceroyalty in Peru. It seeks to account for the economic, social and cultural impact of this traumatic process in the history of Peru.
Bourbon, 18th century: Room that exposes the social, political and cultural development that took place in the viceroyalty of Peru, especially during the 18th century. Works of art from the so-called 'Cusco School of Painting' stand out.
Independence: Room that through documents, canvases and museum pieces gives an account of the Independence of Peru. It exhibits paintings with the main liberators such as José de San Martín and Simón Bolívar who lived in the palace that the museum occupies during the first years of the republic.
Republic: Room that seeks to raise awareness about the new republican period in the country. It emphasizes the characters that most influenced the last two centuries of republican life as well as important events such as the War of the Pacific.
House Museum - Quinta del Viceroy Pezuela: This house - museum exhibits furniture and objects belonging to Viceroy Pezuela who inhabited the palace that now forms the museum.
What else to see?
The museum also has library or archive spaces for researchers. It even promotes projects for researchers.
Price of admission
These are the entrance prices to the museum:
- Adults in general: 10 Peruvian soles.
- University students: 1 Peruvian sol.
- College students: 1 Peruvian sol.
- Night visit: 20 Peruvian soles.
The museum is open from Monday to Sunday from 8.45 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon.
More information about the visit
If you like museums, do not miss the opportunity to visit other cultural centers in the city of Lima. One of the most innovative is the Metropolitan Museum of Lima that gives an account of the historical development of the city. It is located in the Exposition Park.
The museum also includes the tour guide service for an additional cost of 20 Peruvian soles. Students, both university and school, only pay the value of 1 additional Peruvian sol at their entrance.
The museum has a special area for taking photographs or filming. This service has an additional cost.
It is forbidden to touch the pieces as they have great historical value. It is also not allowed to take professional photographs or filming.