The Pre-Columbian Gold and National Coin Museum (Museo de Oro Precolombino y Numismática) is located in San Jose’s Barrio La Soledad. It is one of the most extensive collections of Pre-Columbian gold in the Americas, and is the pride of Costa Rica. This museum is set in an underground building underneath the Plaza de la Cultura. This 3-part museum has an extraordinary collection of gold objects that reflect the world view, social structure and gold-working techniques of the Pre-Columbian peoples of Costa Rica. The collection consists of pre-Columbian gold jewelry in Central America, with more than 1,600 pieces dating from 500 AD to 1500 AD, historical currency and regional artwork. Owned by the Banco Central, this museum also displaying some of the rare currency in the form of coins and bills some of which date back hundreds of years. This musuem is divided into two levels:
Firsts level is ‘Introductory and orientation area’ that is set on the second level of the building that interprets the social and cultural evolution of pre-Columbian cultures. In this area the visitors will also know about the development of metallurgy in Costa Rica, its styles and stages. On the third level you will find exhibition of gold pieces. In this section you will also find the different uses and meanings of the gold objects. Before watching the collection, you can see an introductory video.
Diquis is an ancient indigenous culture of southwestern Costa Rica and much of the goldwork found in this museum is credited to Diquis. The Diquis believed that spirits in animal form were responsible for sickness. If you visit this museum and observe the gold pieces, you will find their ornaments of birds, animals, ritual objects, gods and the tools and utensils of daily life have enormous vitality and many of the gold pieces depict evil-looking animals. These malevolent animals represents that those can protect the bearer against disease and sickness. Through the gold works of this museum are reflecting an immensely energetic and humorous society.
Things to see:
Many hung on transparent wires are used for making the gold pieces sparkle so that they appear magically in front of the visitors. You will find a large bird spreads its wings and tail as it is drying its feathers, a quizzical human figure with a drum on one hand and what might be the tail of a snake clenched between his teeth and its cheerful head grasped in his hand. There is also a half-human half-animal figure has webbed feet like snorkeling flippers. You will also find frogs, armadillos, jaguars, lobsters and spiders of various shapes and sizes on display. You can gain some knowledge about the country’s gold-production centers and the historical importance of Costa Rican gold explained in several maps in English and Spanish. In the same building you will find the National Coin Museum that displays coins, banknotes and other unofficial currencies which date back to the 13th century.
The Gold Museum (Museo de Oro Pre-Colombino)
San Jose, 5th street, between central and 2nd avenue
Monday to Sunday 9:30 am to 4:30pm
Foreigners $9 (Foreign students with ID card $5)