Dennis told Ruth not to miss the gold museum in San José, Costa Rica. It was the 1st place we headed for and we got lucky. It had been renovated and had just reopened. I didn’t see before but after is a 5 Compass attraction.
The gold museum certainly has an imposing official name, Museo de Oro Precolombino y Numismàtica. That’s because it contains the truly extensive collection of pre-Columbian gold and other ceramic and jade objects amassed by the Banco Central, which also has an extensive currency collection that explains the Numismàtica part of its title. Above the gold museum are examples of Costa Rica’s traditionally beautiful currency in a separate but smaller museum. The bank’s total collection contains 1,586,600 pieces. Most of it is in storage, but a large portion of its gold holdings are on display. I was amazed to learn that this collection was formed in the 1950s after the bank was created following Costa Rica’s 1948 Civil War. One sign in the gold museum said that the bank’s archaeological collection has 3,567 objects. Its total gold collection reportedly is 1,586 objects. This Museo de Oro under the Plaza de la Cultura is really worth seeing. Thanks, Dennis.
The pre-Columbian gold objects are displayed so they can be seen close-up. The newly redone gold museum has 9 units and much is attractive to children. A lot of displays are at their level and really appeal to them. The people who lived in the area before Costa Rica became a country found gold in rivers and gathered it by panning. They also traded for gold from other areas, like what is now the country of Columbia. They became really good at creating objects from gold beginning about 500 AD after they had learned to construct stone roads and aqueducts. They knew how to use copper and had mastered embossing. They employed lots of animals for decorating, used beeswax and clay in production, and became proficient at making useful objects like weapons, needles, and things to be buried with the elite. They often found inspiration in familiar fauna like bats and sea creatures like shrimp and used them to adorn their creations. My favorite artifact was the ceramic monkey below.
At the end of the 9 units on 2 levels, Ruth and I watched a continuously running, interesting documentary about the 8 indigenous groups that make of 2.4% of Costa Rica’s population. There’s much current interest in preserving their cultures as the result of archaeological excavations, but it’s also honestly noted that corporations exploit their natural resources illegally.