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2020 Updated information about the best museums in Quito, discover the best places to find out about the history and culture of Ecuador.
The capital of Ecuador, Quito is known for its rich culture and history that goes as far as 10,000 BC. With archeological heritages galore, the city hosts an overwhelming number of museums. They boast exhaustive collections of art, ethnography, artifacts, archeology, and even modern art. Each Quito museum captures history from a different angle, unraveling a fresh perspective. While all are a must-visit, some are absolutely unmissable.
This national museum in Quito displays over 1500 permanent artifacts. Exhibited chronologically, they document culture and history from the pre-Inca era to the present day. Besides relics, there are also scenes depicting life in the Amazon. The museum is comprised of five rooms, each dedicated to an era. Exploring all rooms can take up to half a day and may need planning.
This is one of the best art museums in Quito, and is located in the former home of lauded painter, Oswaldo Guayasamín. It exhibits a complete collection of his works. Some paintings are a raw representation of life and human conditions. Others paint the struggles faced by Ecuador and its people during the Cold War.
Displayed thematically alongside Guayasamín’s masterpieces are a collection of pre-Columbian bone pieces, ceramics, and metalwork as well.
Set in a 17th-century colonial edifice, the museum boasts an exhibition of over 5,000 pre-Columbian artifacts. These antiquities range from household items and art to weaponry. Some remnants represent the indigenous beliefs in the afterlife and the role of shamans. Over 500 of these artifacts are on permanent display in eight rooms. Audio tours are available in Casa del Alabado. Explanations are available in both English as well as Spanish languages.
Founded in 1925 at Central University, MAAS is the oldest museum in Ecuador. The antiques on display belong to the Paleoindian Period – the era when first ancestors crossed Bering Strait and inhabited the Western Hemisphere. The museum, through its material, offers a peek into the pre-Hispanic life and culture. The exhibition is thematic instead of chronological. Its layout is divided into three parts – two exhibition halls and an audio-visual room.
Sited in the city’s northwest corner, Florida is built on the very archeological site where its exhibits were discovered. The museum has recreated these burial chambers to show burial rituals between 200 AD and 680 AD. Observe the well-shaped funerary architectures with several tombs and a central chamber. Since Quito ancestors believed in an afterlife, their dead were buried in fine clothes with ornaments and ceramics. These ritualistic accouterments are also on display in the museum.
Located adjacent to the 18th-century Arco de la Reina, this museum in Quito takes shelter in a 16th-century hospital that operated from 1565 to 1974. The building itself exudes artistic charm. Inside the museum are two floors encircled by verdant courtyards. Set in a serene setting of Old Quito, it exhibits a variety of material including wax figures, dioramas, model indigenous homes, paintings, and colonial kitchens. Sound effects add another dimension to experiencing the pre-Hispanic life. Temporary exhibitions are also put up from time to time. Entry to this museum is free on a month’s last Sunday.
When it comes to museums in Quito, many travelers are spoiled for choice. Use this helpful guide to make your choice, whether you are looking for history, culture, or beautiful objects that are quintessential to the histories of Ecuador, you can find what you are looking for here! And if you are looking for more things to do in Quito, then don’t hesitate to look a little closer!