Of the multitude of colours I saw in Bogotá, one stood out, over and above the rest. It was bright and shiny, contained in a museum all for itself. The greatest eye-popper was GOLD.
If your heart races at the thought of gold everywhere, vast quantities of it, as it did for the Spanish conquistadores, a visit to the Museo del Oro is a must. Set in the heart of the La Candelaria, the museum is a short walk from the Plaza Bolivar.
An hour is too short to take in the immense pre-Colombian history of various cultures and tribes. I walked away with half-baked information about the mystique of shamans, the myth of El Dorado, and the manic fascination of the Spaniards who couldn’t believe the ceremonial sacrifice of gold to the lake. The explorers and conquerers drained out rivers and lakes, seeking out gold, and after finding nothing significant in the water, proceeded to deplete the lands of their natural wealth and resources for the next couple of centuries.
The museum has an outstanding display of a number the ritual objects of their tribes, but what I appreciated even more was the way in which they were displayed. Take a look:
Do you see what I saw, or did not see? How well the ‘support’ is designed, making the artefact appear suspended. It was charming.
I liked the shaman’s embellishments too, meant to cover his body with gold, to shine in the sun, to establish that he was closer to god, higher in status than mortals.
The problem with too many gold objects, for me, is that my eyes start hurting. Yet, it was worth going to the upper floor to see the pièce de résistance – the El Dorado raft – a Muisca work of art, depicting the ceremony of investiture of the tribal chief.
As well as the special effects in the dark room:
What I missed at the museum was an interesting, knowledgeable guide. A good storyteller might have brought the exhibits and their histories to life.