Friday, February 05, 2010

Bogotá for Beginners: Museo de Oro

When the Spanish came to what is today Colombia, they heard a tale of a tribe of Indians that were masters of gold. Indians in the Caribbean region spoke of a tribe of Indians that made beautiful gold pieces and that had so much gold that they would paint themselves with it and sacrifice boat loads of gold to their God.


Thus began the search for El Dorado (the Golden One). Though the story the Spanish heard was greatly exaggerated, there was indeed a tribe of Indians that made a sacrifice of Gold in what is called the lake of Guatavita.


When the Cacique (ka -SEE-kay) of the village of Guatvita died and his successor appointed, the new chief or cacique would indeed be bathed in gold. Then, he sat upon a large wooden raft that was covered in items made of gold. He would float out into the middle of the lake and all of the items would be dumped into the lake then he would jump in and wash off the gold from his skin.

The piece pictured here at the left is a representation of that ceremony. This piece was found by campesinos in 1969 in a cave outside Pasca. It is actually the second one found the first was found in the 1800's and was destroyed in a fire on its way to be housed in a German museum. Because of the loss of the first Balsa del Dorado, Colombia has never allowed, nor will it allow this piece to leave the country -- you can only see it at the museum!!! It alone is worth the trip.

But wait, there's more!!!! You can see literally thousands of pieces from some 12 different Pre-Hispanic Indian tribes. In addition to gold there are other master art pieces and cultural icons of Colombia. And, drum roll please, a super cool children's section which is HANDS ON!!!

Free tours are conducted daily in Spanish and English. There are also audio tours available in Spanish, English and French for a fee of $6,000 pesos. But, if you want a personal guide, you can get one for $106,000 for groups consisting of 1-10 people. These guides speak English, French, German or Italian and must be prearranged by calling 343-1206. Also available are special tours in Spanish for the blind or in Colombian sign language for the deaf -- this may be a great thing for families adopting kids with special needs. You must prearrange your special needs tour by calling 343- 2222.

Finally, there are adult and children's workshops nearly every week. These are amazing hands on learning activities. The workshops are free, but space is limited to 30 people, so you need to call early to reserve a spot 343-1206.


The Museum is open Tuesday-Sunday. The price to enter the Museum is $3000. Free for those over 60 years of age, under 12 years of age, or of indigenous origin. It is also free to the public (but quite crowded) on Sundays.

Getting to the Museum is easy on the Transmilleno bus system. You want to go towards LAS AGUAS and get off at the Museo de Oro station. You get dropped off just a few steps from the Museum.

There are so many amazing things to see while in Bogotá, especially for those who have spent most of their adoption process in other regions and are trying to finish the process at their Embassy. However, don't be in such a rush to get back home that you miss spending a morning or afternoon at the Gold Museum. I carried our 21 1/2 month old in a hip carrier through the whole museum, and I am so glad I did. Truly an amazing experience.

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1 comment:

Connie said...

We visited the Museo while we were in Bogota, and it was amazing. Unfortunately my new children were out of control and could not focus on what they were seeing. (9 and 11 yrs. old and terrified, but acting angry). So I don't know how much they remember. I am glad we made the effort, though. We went on a Free Admission day, which was a bonus.