Bogotá for Beginners: Museo Nacional de Colombia
In the U.S., we have the Smithsonian. In Colombia, there is the Museo Nacional -- the National Museum. The Museum was established almost 187 years ago -- on July 28, 1823. It thas been housed in many locations, but the most recent (from 1948 - the present) is the former Cundinamarca Prison -- which was declared a National Monument in 1975 because of its amazing architecture.
A few years ago, a newly restored and updated interior was unveiled. What a change!!!
Today the museum boasts permanent and travelling exhibits on 3 different levels. The permanent exhibits consists of 17 areas and over 2,500 pieces.
The first floor houses the Pre-Colombian exhibits as well as exhibits from the time of the Spanish Conquest. Gold, pots, mummies, swords -- way cool for little boys!!! You can learn about native Colombians from many different regions -- Tolima, Boyacá, the Coast, etc.
The 2nd floor houses exhibits from 1550-1886 -- the Colonization, Independence (including items belonging to Simón Bolivar and the picture of Pedro Pascasio Martinez) and growth of Federalism.
The 3rd floor hosts exhibits from 1886 to the present.
The travelling exhibits include one that right now pays homeage to the TELENOVELA -- and what self respecting Colombian would not agree the the telenovela is an integral part of Colombian culture, just ask Ugly Betty what I'm talking about.
The first time I went I was told that you can, for a fee, request a tour guide that speaks English. While I was there I heard one giving a tour in French. So, it would be worth calling and seeing if this is still available.
There are games and activities for children (at least that is what I read online -- didn't take the kids last time I went). Here is a link: http://www.museonacional.gov.co/index.php?pag=home&id=11570
I think the best part of the museum is that you leave with a greater understanding and appreciation for Colombia. That is a gift to give yourself.
The museum is located on Carrera 7 between Calles 28 and 29. You can get there by taking the Transmilenio and getting off at the Estación Calle 26 and walking 2 blocks. You can't miss it -- here's a picture so you will recognize it.
It is open to the public on Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. It is closed on Mondays.
The price of admission is 3,000 pesos for adults, 2,000 for kids 13-18 with a student ID card, 1,000 pesos for kids 5-12 and free from kids under 5. It is also free for everyone on Sundays.