Do you plan on spending a few days in Lima, the City of Kings, during your Peru adventure? Then be sure to spend an afternoon or evening visiting the Larco Museum, located in Lima’s Pueblo Libre District. On display in this museum, which has been considered the No. 1 museum in all of Latin America, are over 45,000 pre-Columbian artifacts spanning over 5,000 years of ancient Peru’s history. It is set in an elegant vice-royalty mansion built in the 1700s and surrounded by vibrant and beautifully landscaped gardens.
The Larco Museum was founded by Rafael Larco Hoyle in 1926, who came from a lineage of Peruvians that were deeply interested in Peru’s cultural patrimony. Larco Hoyle had been educated in the United States and had seen some of the impressive museums there. This inspired him to dedicate himself to preserving and exhibiting items collected from excavation sites, the first of which were found around Peru’s northern coastal areas, representing the Chimú and Moche cultures. Larco Hoyle noted these items were precious and irreplaceable, as they were the only objects remaining from some of Peru’s most ancient cultures. Too, the items were often being looted and damaged by irresponsible excavators. He devoted his energies to gathering and preserving these artifacts to prevent them from being lost to the world.
From those beginnings, the Larco Museum has since grown to a collection of over 45,000 objects.
Gold and Silver– An extensive collection of gold and silver artifacts from the Moche, Chimú, and Vicúss people, including breastplates, bracelets, necklaces, crowns, earrings, nose rings, and more. Many of these items were buried with the remains of their bearers to accompany them into the next world. There are also examples of bead necklaces and bracelets made with gemstones, such as amethyst, turquoise, lapis lazuli, and quartz. Metallic adornments representing sacred animals and plants, such as jaguars, crabs, frogs, and peanuts are also on display.
Erotic Art – The largest pre-Columbian collection of erotic art in the world provides a glimpse into the sex lives of Peru’s ancient cultures. Many explicit ceramic pieces represent sexual and procreative activities, childbirth, fertility rites, etc. Some of the pieces date back to as early as 1250 BCE. Needless to say, this display is among the museum’s most popular attractions
Storage Rooms– The Larco Museum has opened its storage rooms to the general public. Visitors have the unique opportunity to walk among rows of over 30,000 carefully classified objects, providing insight into the systems for the categorization of ancient artifacts and the type of data used to learn about and compare ancient cultures.
Online catalog– The first museum in Latin America to catalog its entire collection and make it available to researchers and the public online, the Larco Museum promotes and encourages the multidisciplinary study of the content of its exhibitions. Relevant terms may be entered into a search box online to bring up results pertaining to each of the items in its exhibitions.
A visit to the Larco Museum is a complete experience. Its extensive gardens, filled with flowering plants and shrubs, provide a peaceful setting to relax in between perusals of its exhibits, and it boasts a well-regarded restaurant that serves a complete menu of Peruvian and International dishes, beverages, and desserts. It has recently expanded its menu to include innovative Peruvian fusion dining options. Indoor and outdoor seating beside the garden are both available.
Artifacts from the Larco Museum have been exhibited around the world, and its contribution to a modern understanding of the worldview of ancient cultures in Peru cannot be overestimated. Through access to its exhibits, both researchers and the general public can expand their knowledge and comprehension of what life was like for these cultures, how they interacted with nature and with one another, and what they considered important in life.
The Larco Museum was listed as among the top twenty museums in the world on the popular travel website Trip Advisor’s Travelers’ Awards list, based on the opinions of millions of users. It is located at Av. Simón Bolivar 1515, Pueblo Libre 15084 and is open daily from 9 am to 10 pm. On December 24, 25, 31, and January 1, it closes its doors at 6 pm.
For more information, visit the museum’s website at https://www.museolarco.org/