The Museum of Gold (Spanish: El Museo del Oro) is one of the most visited touristic highlights in the country and located at Bogota.
The Muisca raft (Balsa Muisca in Spanish), also known as the El Dorado raft, is an artistic figure of pre-Colombian golden votive, drawn up by the Muisca who is one of the four great civilizations in America on the Altiplano Cundiboyacense in the eastern borders of the Colombian Andes. It is estimated that the figure was drawn between 600 and 1600 AD by pouring wax into gold with a small amount of copper. This is about the most beautiful part of the museum.
The piece has a base in the shape of a log boat with dimensions of 19.5 cm x 10.1 cm ( 7.6 inches x 3.9 inches) and various figures on the raft, the largest figure that stands in the middle apparently represents the chief, which is adorned with headdresses, nose rings and earrings, measuring 10.2 cm ( 4 inches) and is surrounded by his soldiers who carry banners.
The raft was found by three farmers in early 1969 in a cave in the village of Lázaro Fonte in the municipality of Pasca (Cundinamarca), Colombia in a ceramic pot, adorned with a human figure whose face has sharp teeth. The priest of the municipality protected the piece until it was acquired by Bogota’s Gold Museum and where it has become one of its major exhibition pieces.It has never left Colombia.
In 1934, the Bank of the Republic began helping to protect the archaeological patrimony of Colombia.The object known as Poporo Quimbaya was the first one in a collection. It has been on exhibition for 70 years.The Museum is today administered by Banrepcultural.
The museum houses the famous Muisca golden raft found in Pasca in 1969, that represents the ceremony of the new zipa (ruler) of Bacatá, the basis for the El Dorado myth. The heir to the chieftaincy assumed power with a great offering to the gods. In this representation he is seen standing at the centre of a raft, surrounded by the principal chieftains, all of them adorned with gold and feathers.
After a decade of work, the museum was expanded and renovated in October 2008. With the renovation, the museum organized the permanent exhibition in five rooms with archaeological objects and an interactive room. It also added an auditorium, some temporary exhibitions rooms, a cafe, a restaurant, and a souvenir store.
The museum has a collection of 55,000 pieces, 6,000 of which are on display in their expanded building. There are bilingual descriptions of almost all exhibits. On the first floor houses the museum’s main entrance, a shop, and a restaurant.
Exhibitions begin on the second floor. The main room is called “People and Gold in pre-Hispanic Colombia”. In glass vitrines display goldsmiths’ work from the different cultures which inhabited Colombia before the Spanish colonists arrived. The permanent exhibition is divided into different halls for every culture: Calima, Quimbaya, Muisca, Zenú, Tierradentro, San Agustín, Tolima, Tairona, and Urabá, and a special room called “After Columbus” (Después de Colón).
The exposition continues on the third floor, with “The Flying Chamanic” and “The Offering.” The first shows the process of a shamanic ceremony with its different gold pieces, the second is divided into three parts: the “Offering Room”, the “Offering Boat”, and the “Lake”.
At the end of the exposition, there is a “Profunditation Room” with artistic videos about the most important gold pieces of the museum.
( at the time of publishing this article 02/2019)
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