In Bogotá, Colombia, about a year and a half ago, I came across one of the coolest museums I’ve ever encountered: the Museo Nacional de Colombia (National Museum of Colombia). Located in downtown Bogotá, steps from the current tallest building in South America, the Torre Colpatria, it is definitely worth checking out. This museum covers all aspects of past Colombian history, art, culture, and more. Built in 1823, it is the oldest museum in the country (and one of the oldest on the continent), as well as being the largest. It’s building resembles a fortress, because it was actually built to be a prison, constructed by Thomas Reed in 1874; it was called Panóptico (inspired by Jeremy Bentham’s conceptual Panopticon prison) and served as a prison till 1946. In 1948, it was adapted to become the museum’s new home, where it still is today.

Over 20,000 pieces of art and historical objects are stored within its walls, covering all time periods of the country’s existence. From Great Archaeology:

Permanent exhibitions present archeology and ethnography samples from most antique Colombian men vestiges, 10,000 years BC, up to XX century indigenous and afro-Colombian art and culture.

Founders and New Kingdom of Granada room houses rich Liberators and other Spanish authorities iconography; the round room exhibits a series of oleos synthesizing Colombia painting history.

Paintings by masters Débora Arango, Fernando Botero, Enrique Grau, Ignacio Gomez Jaramillo, Santiago Martinez Delgado, Alejandro Obregón, Omar Rayo and Guillermo Wiedemann are part of the Permanent Collection.

Visit the Museo Nacional:

Carrera 7 No. 28-66
(7th avenue between 28th and 29th streets)
Bogotá, D.C., Colombia
Phone: (571) 343 2222
Visiting Hours: Tues-Sun, 10am-6pm (Sunday ’til 5pm)
Guided English tours: every Wednesday, 4:00 p.m.

Admission to the permanent galleries
Adults $2.000 COP
Voluntary donation to Asociación de Amigos Museo Nacional $1.000 COP
Students with ID $1.000 COP
Voluntary donation to Asociación de Amigos Museo Nacional $1.000 COP
Children over 5 $500 COP
Children under 5, senior citizens,
ICOM members and Friends
of the Museum