Machu Picchu Travel

Museum of Pre-Columbian Art

Museum of Pre-Columbian Art

The whole Peruvian territory enjoys a great diversity that can be traced back to thousands of years before the Incas even started their famous civilization. Cusco wasn’t the only significant pre-columbian settlement in Peru since different cultures walked through the whole country leaving an incredible legacy that lives on until the current date.

Many artifacts were found along our vast lands, some of them were robbed and others preserved and studied to acquire a better understanding of the ancient communities that marked the Peruvian region. Therefore, the local government and private organizations look to spread awareness to the conservation of the ancestral cultures that preceded our civilization.

Thereby, the Pre-Columbian Art Museum was founded as an initiative and alliance between the BBVA Foundation and the renowned Larco Museum. Over 400 pieces are exhibited in this museum, belonging to different cultures across the country, like the Huari, Nazca, and especially the Incas.

It is certainly one of the must-visit attractions in Cusco since it gathers the most important aspects of pre-Columbian Peru, as well as for having an authentic hybrid architecture with Colonial and Inca elements that makes it stand out from the rest.

If you wish to understand more about the diverse cultures that marked our country, make sure to visit the Museo de Arte Precolombino. On this blog, you’ll find detailed information about its history, exhibitions, and more.

Casa Cabrera: The Museum’s Headquarters

The authentic colonial mansion is about 500 years old. The lands first belonged to Don Alonso Díaz, but later it became the headquarters of the Santa Clara Monastery which housed several orfan maidens during the colonial era.

Afterwards, it was acquired by Gerónimo Luis de Cabrera de la Cerda, the reason why it is commonly known as Casa Cabrera. However, after a strong earthquake stroke the city, the structure was significantly damaged.

Going further in the future it also served as a catholic school in the 1900, but it wasn’t until 1988 that Banco Continental acquired the old mansion to later reconstruct it and make it the headquarters of the Pre-Columbian Art Museum of Cusco founded in June 2003.

Likewise, the colonial structure is located within the Historic Center of Cusco, making it one of the many listed UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the area.

An important fact to be highlighted is that, as most of the colonial houses within Cusco’s old town, Casa Cabrera was built on top of an Inca ruin that served as a “Yachaywasi,” an educational establishment for the children of the Inca elite.

Permanent Exhibitions

1. The Origins Gallery
It gathers a collection of the first ever documented ancient civilizations of Peru, which have managed to acquire a distinctive identity. Among them are the Chavin, Salinar, Vicús, Virú, Cupisnique, and Paracas cultures.

2. Wood Gallery
Looks to portray the wooden sculpture evolution of the pre-Columbian Andean communities. Wood was one of the firsts natural materials domesticated by the Peruvian man, which they used for many purposes including cultural and artistic expression related to their deities and customs.

3. Shells Gallery
In the Peruvian coastal side, it was used to represent mythical narrations. The first European historians were amazed by the existence of objects made entirely of shell or bones. In this exhibition are held beautiful pieces that were traced to the Mochica culture.

4. Silver Gallery
The precious metal was considered part of the femenine elements of nature since it was often related to the moon, just like gold is linked to the Sun. Artisans managed to exploit metal and many cultures achieved a great level of artistic creation.

5. Gold Gallery
The ancient civilizations that once ruled our country looked at natural elements with a certain correlation, meaning that somehow they wanted to portray the duality of the world. Gold was a precious metal used mainly for ceremonial purposes and to be worn by the elite of these cultures. The Incas, for example, believed that gold came from the Sun’s sweat, and that silver represented the Moon’s tears.

6. South Peru Gallery
The showroom offers a glance at the artistic expression of the Nazca and Paracas cultures, two civilizations that were recognized for their impressive pottery art, paintings, and textile style.

7. North Peru Gallery
 One of the most significant cultures of our country settled on the northern coast of Peru. The Mochica civilization left a prevailing legacy that continues to amaze us until the current date. Therefore, in this gallery are exhibited the most impressive ceramic artifacts of the famous culture.

8. Central Peru Gallery
In this gallery you’ll get to know about the famous Huari culture that emerged about 1,000 years ago. They managed to expand their empire through military occupation, alliances, and ideological persuasion, something that was clearly adapted years later to the Inca culture.

9. Before The Incas Gallery
The ever-growing knowledge and power of the Incas was linked to the adaptation of customs and strategies from previous societies, just like the Chimu and Chancay civilizations. In this exhibition are showcased some of the outstanding archeological artifacts of those cultures.

10. The Incas Gallery
The Inca Empire was certainly one of the most praised governments of the South American region due to its administrative and military control, as well as their extensive agricultural and engineering knowledge. In this exhibition, you’ll get to know about the cultural and artistic expression of the Incas and also admire their incredible handle of ceramic and stone.

How to Visit the Pre-Columbian Art Museum?

The renowned museum is located a few blocks away from Plaza de Armas, in the Plazoleta Nazarenas to be exact. To visit the site, you can take a short walk or even a guided tour through the main attractions of the city, that way you’ll get to know even more of the authentic legacy of the Imperial City of the Incas.

Luckily for you, we have an exclusive excursion through the Historic Center of Cusco, where you get to know the main attractions, streets, and other points of interests within the old town. The tour is available in all our travel experiences as an exclusive activity for Viagens Machu Picchu passengers only.

We care to provide everything you need to have an authentic adventure through our country. Get to know all the special offers we have in Peru travel packages and start planning the trip of your life!

General Information

- Operating Hours: Monday to Sunday - From 09:00h to 22:00h.
- Entrance: General - S/.20.00, Students - S/. 10.00.
- Address: Plazoleta Nazarenas 231, Cusco.

Would you like to know more about Peruvian history? Here we have gathered 5 of the best museums in Cusco that you shouldn't miss during your trip. There's so much to know about the ancient Peruvians and we would love to show you everything about our cultural expression while you're here!


Package suggestions