Welcome to the Banco de la República and its Bogotá Gold Museum, Museo del Oro.
Our permanent exhibition invites you to discover the history of how gold and other metals were used by the pre-Hispanic societies who lived in the land today known as Colombia. It is displayed in four exhibition galleries, all of which you can visit in whatever order you prefer:
The Working of Metals
The Working of Metals gallery describes the mining, smelting and metalworking processes that are behind every single metal object that is on display in the Gold Museum.
Not only the metalsmith but also the miner transformed the materials that nature offered, in order to create these timeless works of art, and they therefore deserve our fullest admiration. They were also thought of as wise men, and sometimes even as shamans, by their ancient communities.
People and Gold in Pre-Hispanic Colombia
The Gold Museum collection was started by Banco de la República in 1939. It illustrates the social and cultural life of the different groups of people who lived in what is now known as Colombia from 2,500 years ago until the time of the European Conquest. Who were these people? How did they live? What beliefs and traditions did they have? How did they relate to their environment?
In this gallery, People and Gold in Pre-Hispanic Colombia, you will travel the country from south to north. You will get to know the climates, the environments, and the ancient societies and cultures that lived in the Andes mountains and on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, which were the regions where metals were worked in the past.
Metal (and pottery, wood, stone, shell and textile) objects in the showcases invite the visitor to establish a personal, intimate relationship with every one of these ancient objects, and to question each one, explore it, and enjoy it. All texts are bilingual, English and Spanish.
Try renting an audioguide when you visit the Museum (in English, Spanish, French or Portuguese), as this will give you much more information than what you will find in the texts displayed on the panels and inside the showcases themselves.
Cosmology and Symbolism
Cosmologies gave society and its surroundings a place in the universe. All things acquired a location and a meaning, and they were interwoven in a deep symbolism. According to myths, at the beginning of time the creators gave people all they needed for living.
The Cosmology and Symbolism gallery houses various Banco de la República Gold Museum masterpieces —admittedly, inside a vault, for safekeeping. But the value of what is kept there lies in the indigenous thought which gave those magnificent objects a meaning, a raison d'être.
Pre-Hispanic goldwork objects were more than mere ornaments, they were symbols of the religion of pre-Hispanic indigenous groups: shamanism.
The exhibition room on the third floor of the Gold Museum deals with the meaning of this religious art, in a semi-dark environment where six cylindrical showcases connect heaven and earth. The Muisca Raft, the object which symbolises the El Dorado myth and ceremony, introduces the subject of the offering that was made by the chieftain or the shaman in order to encourage or restore equilibrium in the world.
At the end of the tour, someone will stop you and ask you to wait. When a wall opens up, you will witness a son et lumière performance that will become engraved in your memory. Don't miss coming and discovering it!
Regional gold museums
In addition to the Gold Museum in Bogotá, Banco de la República also offers Colombians and foreigners alike six permanent exhibitions, with items on display from pre-Columbian cultures which developed the art of goldwork in different regions of the country. Entrance to all the regional museums is free. Do not miss them when travelling!
Museo del Oro Tairona - Casa de la Aduana, Santa Marta
Museo del Oro Zenú, Cartagena
Museo del Oro Quimbaya, Armenia
Museo del Oro Calima, Cali
Museo del Oro Nariño, Pasto
Museo etnográfico, Leticia (Amazonas)