Gold Museum Bogotá
Many people travel to Bogotá specifically to visit the Museo del Oro or Gold Museum--for good reason. Over four floors, the museum houses hundreds of treasures now owned and cared for by Colombia's central bank that all come together to tell the story of the native populations of the country, most notably the Muisca. Artifacts include incredibly detailed yet modern designs of jewelry such as earrings and nose rings, as well as religious and everyday objects such as lime containers used for chewing coca leaves. Rather than large hammered pieces you might find in other South American countries, here you will gaze in wonder upon intricately detailed pieces that are almost all smelted, employing a lost wax technique with various metals being purposefully alloyed. One of my favorite pieces apart from the masks and hummingbird earrings, is the golden raft created by the Muisca that portrays the ritual of El Dorado performed at Lake Guatavita. Some gold artifacts are still being found across the country today--as they are of outstanding cultural value, they are prohibited under the Constitution and by law from being purchased, sold or exported. Everything automatically belongs to the government with the Gold Museum in charge of preserving, researching, and displaying this important collection of objects that are part of the nation's archaeological heritage. If you sadly can't make to to Bogotá sometime soon, you can check out 128 of the popular pieces online as part of the Google Art Project.