Quito Museums
Quito museums - a collection of tickets and brochures
Figure at the Guayasamin Museum in Quito
Amazon Museum logo
Artwork at the Guayasamin Museum in Quito
Quito Old TownSanto Domingo plaza and church in Quito

Quito's Museums display exhibits of history, culture, modern and colonial art,
natural history and archeological remains.

Quito Museums -  Ecuador Destinations

Quito is the cultural capital of Ecuador and most of the country's best museums are here.  They range from formal museums through to preserved colonial houses, artists' workshops and functioning places of worship full of religous art.  Culture, history, contemporary art and the natural sciences are all represented.  
The Museum of the Central Bank is in the round Casa de la Cultura (House of Culture) building, just across the road from El Ejido park.  Here you can find ceramics, colonial and contemporary art and a fantastic collection of pre-Hispanic gold artefacts.  From there, a short walk up the hill and to the left onto Avenida 12 de Octubre will bring you to the Catholic University, which houses the Museo (Museum) Jacinto Jijón Caamaño, which displays religious artworks, antique furniture and ancient ceramics. 
The Museo Amazónico (Amazonian Museum) is further along 12 de Octubre, between Veintemilla and Wilson, on the first floor of the Abya Yala building.  The museum displays musical instruments, cooking utensils and personal adornments of the some of the indigenous tribes of the rainforest and examples of some of the animals found there.  There are some beautiful feathered headdresses, a couple of shrunken human heads and some rather sad photos showing oil spills in the Oriente.  The displays are very simple, with just a little information in Spanish, English and French, but somehow you get the feeling of this very different way of life and the importance of conserving the cultural heritage which has been devastated by the oil industry.  $2 for foreigners, open Monday to Friday, 8.30a.m. to 1p.m. and 2p.m. to 5.30p.m.  The bookshop downstairs has an extensive collection of books about different native groups, mostly in Spanish. 
The Natural History Museum (Museo Ecuatoriano de Ciencias Naturales) is in La Carolina Park in the new town.  It lacks funding and some of the exhibits have seen better days, but it's still worth a visit.  Monday to Friday, 8.30a.m. to 1p.m. and 2-4.30p.m.  $2.  The Botanical Section is at Rio Coca 1734 and Isla Fernandina, and opens 8.30a.m. to 5p.m. Monday to Friday. 
The Chapel of Man (Capilla del Hombre) is the artist Oswaldo Guayasamin's secular homage to humanity itself and home to many of his works of art.  In addition to Guayasamin's powerful and often disturbing images, you can see where he lived and worked and enjoy views over Quito.  Walk up the ramp outside to see the peaceful spot where the artist is buried under a tree in the garden of his house.  The guard may offer you a guided tour around the outside of the house in return for a tip, if your Spanish is sufficient to understand his stories.  Entry $4.  Calvache y Chavez, in the Bellavista Alto area of town - take a taxi up the steep hill to the Chapel, then walk down a few blocks to the Guayasamin Foundation Museum at Bosmediano 543, a tranquil spot with rooms full of Pre-Colombian ceramics, Colonial Art with religious works from the Quito School, and works by Guayasamin himself.  Oswaldo Guayasamin was probably Ecuador's most famous artist.  His distinctive paintings are strongly influenced by the suffering and poverty he saw and explore themes of anger, struggle and tenderness.  Entry also $4, which may be reduced to $2 if you show your ticket from the Chapel of Man.
In La Mariscal, the Mindalae Museum in a modern red and black building is dedicated to traditional handicrafts of Ecuador.  The presentation is pretentiously arty.  The lights switch off if you don't keep moving around or flap your arms about, so you can't read most of the information, which is half-heartedly translated into English and French, with most of the interesting bits in Spanish only.  The main function of the museum, apart from extracting money from foreigners, is to tempt you into the Fair Trade Shop of the Sinchi Sacha Foundation.  Although the museum shares an address with the Latin American Association of IFAT (International Fair Trade Association), there is little or no information about the producers of the goods on sale and the shop assistant had no clue about what fair trade meant other than "the producer gets 50% of the price".  Prices do not include tax, which is never a good sign.  Entry $3. Unless you really need to get out of the rain and can't find anything better to do, try the local souvenir shops instead, or better still, a tour to craft producing villages in Ecuador where you can talk to the craftsmen and pay them a fair price yourself. 
Museums are not the only attractions in Quito - see the Quito New Town page for information about the highly recommended Vivarium, the Botanical Gardens and the art and craft markets, or read more about the sights of Quito's Old Town which has ornate colonial churches full of works of art and a couple of old houses preserved to give an idea of how people used to live.  Just outside of Quito, there is the Ethnographic Museum at the Mitad del Mundo.
Useful Spanish Vocabulary for Quito Museums:
Museo: museum
Entrada: entry
Ecuador Destinations: Quito Museums
Quito has some of Ecuador´s best museums with historical relics and archaelogical artefacts, cultural displays, religious artworks, modern art and natural history exhibits.
Website www.ecuadortravelsite.org, text and photos by Sarah Clifford.
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