This collection is a ‘must’, and is perhaps the finest museum in all of South America.
On the northeast corner of the Parque de Santander is the Museo del Oro (the Gold Museum), in the splendid premises of the Banco de la República. There are more than 35,000 pieces of pre-Columbian gold work in the total collection, most of which is held here. The rest is divided between other regional Museos de Oro (all of which are worth a visit), sponsored by the Banco de la República throughout Colombia. Many thousands of pieces are displayed.
On two upper floors, a full display is made of the dozen or so pre-Spanish indigenous groups that have been identified in Colombian territory, and how they found and worked gold and other metals. It is a fascinating story, illustrated by many examples of their work. They used techniques, some might say, unsurpassed by goldsmiths of today.
The first display floor sets the scene, each culture set in its geographical and historical environment, explaining the characteristics of their art. There are illustrative models including one of Ciudad Perdida as it would have looked when inhabited. In each section there are helpful portable boards with explanatory notes in English. The second floor has many more examples of the extraordinary goldwork of these pre-Columbian peoples. The centrepiece of the exhibition is the Salón Dorado, a glittering display of 8000 pieces inside an inner vault – an unforgettable experience.
On the ground floor there is a souvenir/bookshop, and exhibition rooms. Audio guides can be hired at the ticket office. On the first floor, 20-minute films are shown throughout the day, times and languages are displayed. The museum was closed for refurbishment in 2008 but is due to reopen at the end of the year. There is a temporary exhibition on show at the Biblioteca Luis Angel Arango.