The cultural activity of Banco de la República extends as a network through 29 cities in the Colombian territory, and is carried out in the Gold Museum in Bogota, five Gold Museums in Armenia, Cali, Cartagena, Pasto and Santa Marta, the Ethnographic Museum in Leticia, the Luis Ángel Arango Library and the Casa Gómez Campuzano in Bogotá, the Library Network that extends through 28 Colombian cities, the Luis Ángel Arango Library Concert Hall, and Bogotá museums: Casa de Moneda, Botero Museum and, Miguel Urrutia Museum of Art (MAMU).
Each space offers a wide range of cultural services as well as constant programming and free access for all audiences, contributing to the well-being of Colombian citizens and the delight of our visitors.
Among the services available are the promotion of reading and writing, access to conferences, exhibitions and concerts, and the possibility of enjoying archeological, bibliographic, documentary, art, numismatic and philately collections in specially designated spaces. Colombian law expressly authorizes the Central Bank to allocate part of its budget to the development of its cultural services, as well as the implementation of its programming and the preservation of its collections.
The results of this work are materialized in ongoing processes of access to knowledge, culture and history of the country, in the preservation of Colombian cultural heritage, and in the training of readers, promoters and mediators of culture that work from different regions of the country as part of a network. After more than 90 years of work, the cultural activity of Banco de la República is still growing under the institutional direction of the Cultural Department of Banco de la República.
To contribute to the rescue, preservation, analysis, study, organization, research, and dissemination of the cultural heritage of the nation; to promote access to knowledge in order to strengthen a sense of citizenship. To this end, Banco de la República performs, continuously and efficiently, actions related to music performance and to the collections of plastic, documentary, numismatic, philatelic, archaeological, and ethnographic arts.
To make cultural management a sustainable, accessible, and inclusive model to broaden the public’s context, and serve as an inspiring reference both nationally and internationally. To continue with the consolidation of an integral cultural project as a network, focused on the development of the physical and digital collections; and to contribute to the formation of autonomous audiences and the generation of actions and services in suitable spaces and with current technologies.
The history of Banco de la Republica´s cultural activity began not long after its creation, in 1923, with the organization of a small library with documents and books for the investigation of economic studies. The premise was established, since then, of incentivizing the rescue, preservation, analysis, study, and dissemination of Colombian cultural patrimony. Because of this, in the course of the 20th century, the Central Bank´s cultural spaces began housing cultural heritage in the form of documents, books, works of art as well as pre-Columbian, philately, and numismatic pieces. Progressively, the collections were made available to the public in emblematic spaces for the country, such as Museo del Oro (1939), the Luis Ángel Arango Library (1958), the Casa de Moneda Museum (1996), the Botero Museum (2000), and the Miguel Urrutia Museum of Art– MAMU (2004), besides the branches of Banco de la República’s cultural network in 28 cities of the country.
The first collection was the Official Diary and a series of books about economic affairs, memoirs of the treasury, and legal publications by the Board of Conversion, entity that until the beginning of the 1920s had in its care the replacement of paper money for banknotes backed in gold. In the course of the decade, these documents were made accessible to the officials of the Central Bank as well as to students at a small library located in the Pedro A. López building, headquarters of the Bank at the time. Since 1932, after the appointment of its first librarian, the collection has continued to grow, reaching 10,000 volumes, the majority of which were related to banking activity, national and foreign legislation, political economy, public finances, and business, and which were sourced from private libraries or bought by the Bank from intellectuals, politicians, and public officials of the country.
In the 1950s, this process of growth of the bibliographical collection would lead Luis Ángel Arango —the Governor of the Central Bank at the time— to commission the construction of a building designed to house a library that would serve the entire city. On 20 February 1958, the Luis Ángel Arango Library was inaugurated, with spaces intended for reading, the display of art works, and a hall for musical auditions.
Between the 1960s and the 1990s, the Library´s infrastructure was expanded, which enabled the development of its collections, the consolidation of stable programming in the Concert Hall, and the creation of a newspaper archive and map library. Besides this, a decentralization policy was implemented through actions such as the opening of the first public libraries of the Network of Libraries in the following cities around the country: Manizales (1981), Cartagena (1981), Girardot (1981), Riohacha (1981), Pasto (1981), Pereira (1983), Tunja (1983), Ipiales (1984), Ibagué (1984), Armenia (1986), Leticia (1986) and Quibdó (1987).
Since then, and until now, this Network of Libraries has become a world-wide reference of decentralized cultural work with a technical and qualified development of collections, research and exhibitions; continuous and quality programming, and a wide range of services open to all types of audience. In addition to having libraries in 21 cities in the country, the Network of Libraries is joined by 5 regional documentation centers and 3 virtual information services in equal number of cities, plus the Casa Gómez Campuzano, northern headquarters of the Luis Ángel Arango Library in Bogotá. Access to these spaces, as well as to the vast majority of the services offered, is free.
On the other hand, during the 1930s, the official interest in protecting and acquiring pre-Columbian pieces —understood as emblematic elements of the national patrimony— led the Ministry of Education to entrust the Central Bank with the purchase of gold objects manufactured by the indigenous population for their preservation. Consequently, on December 22, 1939, Banco de la República started the Gold Museum´s collection with the purchase of the Quimbaya poporo, to which other pre-Columbian pieces were added during the 1940s. This was the result of the implementation of a policy of purchasing private collections with which the Bank further sought to prevent this type of archaeological objects from exiting the country in the hands of private collectors.
Between 1944 and 1959, the Museum's collection could only be visited by foreign dignitaries, diplomatic missions, and special guests. In 1959, a new headquarters of the Museum was inaugurated in the basement of the current Banco de la República building in Bogotá, open to the general public, and where the collection of pre-Hispanic goldwork —by then the largest in the world— was displayed.
In the following years, the boom of ethnological and anthropological research in the country strongly emphasized the need to integrate the activities of the Museum more closely with the cultural life of the country. For this reason, during the 1960s, the construction of the Museum´s present headquarters was started. Inaugurated in 1968, then enlarged and fully renewed in 2088, it was designed as a space with exhibition areas that simultaneously fulfilled didactic and aesthetic contemplation functions. In its almost 80 years of existence, the Gold Museum has strengthened Colombians' appreciation of the archaeological and anthropological heritage of the country through the management of collections in six regional museums—in addition to its headquarters in Bogotá—and has made visible the wealth of this heritage to visitors from all over the world.
At the same time, Banco de la República has also developed collections of art and numismatics, preserved and exhibited at the Casa de Moneda (mint) Museum, the Botero Museum and the Miguel Urrutia Museum of Art—MAMU. Between the 1950s and 1980s, exhibition spaces were opened, such as the Museo de Arte Religioso (Museum of Religious Art) (1979) —within the Library facilities— and the Casa de Exposiciones (House of Exhibitions) (1996) —which was located at the current site of the Botero Museum—. After different restructuring processes, the collections of these spaces became part of the collections preserved in the already mentioned museums. Regarding the collections of art, numismatics, and philately, cultural activity has also been structured through the decentralization of the 29 branches of the Bank in the country. Thanks to this, incentive programs have been developed for regional and emerging artistic production, such as Imagen Regional (Regional Image) and Nuevos Nombres (New Names), and vocational collections that respond to the history and contexts of cultural production of each of the Cultural Centers of Banco de la República.