The Gold Museum in Bogota, Colombia is one of the country’s most popular and important museums. Bogota, Colombia’s Gold Museum invites awestruck visitors to behold vast quantities of shimmering gold treasures that survived the Spanish conquest.
Four floors of wall to wall craftsmanship produced in Colombia before the arrival of the Spaniards offer glimpses of the region’s opulent history. Considering that the conquistadors sacked all the gold they could get their hands on in the region and shipped it to Spain, the museum’s 34,000 gold piece collection gives us an idea of the incredible wealth of gold goods pre-Columbian cultures created in Colombia.
Winged fish, ornately decorated figures, armbands, and breastplates, are just some of the spectacular and intriguing gold objects displayed here.The spacious museum renovated and expanded in 2008, is organized into four exhibition galleries. The Working of Metals hall describes how ancient metal workers mined and produced metals. In the People and Gold in pre-Hispanic Colombia gallery, visitors explore the ways metals were used in religion and politics.
The Cosmology and Symbolism gallery explains and displays metalwork used in mythology and shamanism, where gold bird figures represent transcendental journeys taken by shamans while under the effects of hallucinogenic plants. Finally, The Offering gives visitors the chance to experience ancient ceremonies.
Gold has historically and universally been used as a highly prized status symbol. This metal had particularly deep meaning among Colombian cultures in pre-Columbian times. Its gold color recalled the life-giving rays of the sun, a source of worship. Video presentations offered at the museum explain our universal appreciation for precious metals throughout the ages by comparing the pre-Colombian gold items displayed in the museum with bronze statues of central African regions.The piece called Muisca Raft is one of the highlights of the museum.
Discovered in 1886 in a Colombian cave, the small artifact (10 inches long) dates back to between 1200 and 1500 B. C. The piece depicts a chieftain standing on a flat raft and surrounded by priests and oarsmen. The image recalls the ceremony recounted in the legend of El Dorado in which a new chieftain would sail with important members of the community to the middle of Guatavita Lake to leave gold offerings to an underwater-dwelling god, tossing the precious metal into the water.
According to legend, the chieftain would also cover himself with gold dust and dive into the water. A large vault displays more gold treasures discovered in Guatavita, where enclosed viewers watch as lights slowly turn on to reveal fantastic gold items so eagerly sought by Europeans inspired by tales of El Dorado. Visitors here are also treated to audio recordings of water splashing and ceremonial prayer, painting in the mind of the viewer indelible images of ancient gilded chieftains plunging into a gold filled lake of incalculable value.
Colombia’s Gold Museum brings to life a treasure-seeking pirate’s wildest dreams, where a seemingly endless array of gold objects transports visitors to a distant age when gold glimmered in great abundance.The museum is closed on Mondays. On Sundays and public holidays, admission is free, all other days, adult admission is 3,000 pesos.