Museums are wonderful places that allow us to travel through time through physical objects, be they pieces of artwork or historical relics. In this time of staying behind closed doors, many of the best museums in the world have opened their collections to virtual visits, allowing their expositions to be enjoyed online.

This has been wonderful for museum lovers, but we cannot deny that being there is just different; breathing the air, seeing the light on the objects, listening while a specialized guide lets us in on all the secrets. Just like theater and dance need the presence of spectators to come alive, museums are complete only with the living presence of visitors.

Museo Nal de Arte
Colonial artwork at the National Museum of Art in La Paz

In this post, we tell you all about the best Bolivian destinations for you museum lovers, explaining how you can travel to each city from different points in the country and which are those museums you just cannot miss, so you can plan your trip for when lock-down is over.

La Paz

La Paz is the seat of government of Bolivia, a city of two million inhabitants, at an altitude of 3600 m above sea level. As one of the liveliest cities in the country, it has a large cultural and historical tradition, and a wide array of museums you just can´t miss. Here, we tell you about our favorites:

  • National Museum of Art: located in a majestic colonial house just a block away from the Palace of Government, the National Museum of Art takes you on a journey of Bolivian art from the times of the colony to today´s contemporary pieces, with work from the best artists like Gil Imaná and Gastón Hugalde, among others. The museum is under the administration of the Cultural Foundation of the Central Bank of Bolivia (FCBCB).
  • National Museum of Ethnography and Folklore: This museum is located only a few blocks away from the first, and is also under the administration of the FCBCB. Here, you will get to know the different artistic expressions of Bolivia´s indigenous peoples and its cultural and biological diversity, fromtextile art to feather clothes and ornaments. Make sure you don´t miss the impressive collection of ritual and festive masks. This is one of the most original museums you will see in Bolivia.
Museo Nacional Etno Y Folk
The mask collection at the Museo Nacional de Etnografía y Folklore

You can travel to La Paz from Peru easily, through Puno, and make La Paz your first stop in Bolivia. You can also travel to La Paz from Chile, with direct bus trips from Arica or Iquique with bus companies that offer comfortable buses and a very good service. If you are in any other city in Bolivia, you can take a bus to La Paz very easily and at different schedules. All buses from other departments arrive at the Bus Terminal of La Paz, located on Peru Av.

Potosi

Potosi is a city of colonial architecture, with a very rich history and culture. It is key for understanding Bolivia´s history. It was declared Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 1987, due to it´s contribution to universal history and its architecture and art attractions. The city was founded on the foothills of the Cerro Rico de Potosi, literally a mountain of silver that provided funds for the Spanish Crown for centuries. At it´s summit, Potosi had more inhabitants than Paris. Today, the city has several museums that might interest you, but we bet this one will be your favorite:

  • Casa Nacional de la Moneda: It is said that, if you took all the silver mined from the Cerro Rico de Potosi during the spanish colony, you could build a bridge from America to Spain. Well, it was here, at the Casa Nacional de la Moneda, where silver coins were minted for the Spanish Colony. Visiting this museum will help you understand the relevance of Potosi in universal history, the way the coins were made, and the importance of our indigenous peoples and cultures.
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Icon of the Casa Nacional de la Moneda. Image by jo vanel from Pixabay

Potosi is a very easy city to travel to, with completely paved highways if you´re coming from La Paz, Villazón or Sucre. If you´re coming from La Paz, you can buy your bus tickets online here. The buses depart from the Bus Terminal of La Paz at 21:30 and arrive in Potosi early in the morning. If you come from Sucre, you can buy your tickets here online. The trip from Sucre to Potosi takes only 3 hours in normal buses.

Sucre

Sucre is a colonial city in the Bolivian valleys, the constitutional capital of the city, despite the seat of government being in La Paz. Known for its streets of white walls and houses with red tile rooftops, its churches and castles and… its beautiful museums. Birthplace of intelectuals, historians, political leaders and writers, it was on the streets of Sucre that the first cry for liberty came about in Latin America, in the 19th century.

Museo Casa de la Libertad Sucre
Interior – Casa de la Libertad
  • House of Liberty:  If you are interested in Latin American history, this is the museum for you. The house of liberty is the place where the Act of Independence of Alto peru was signed in 1825, establishing liberty from the Spanish Colony. Among its treasures is the original Act Of Independence of alto Peru, declared in 2019 as Memory of the World by the Committee  Comité Memory of World-Bolivia (MOW-Bolivia-UNESCO). It also has ancient portraits of the liberators Simón Bolívar, Antonio José de Sucre and José Ballivián, the tomb of captain Juana Azurduy, the first independent flag of South america and other relics.
  • Museum of Indigenous Art ASUR: Unique in it´s style, this museum is a must for those who appreciate and want to know more about the arts of indigenous peoples of Bolivia, specially centered around their textiles. It is said that the indigenous peoples of Tarabuco and the jalq’a, in the department of Chuquisaca, tell their stories and express their cultural identity in their intricate weavings. In this museum, you will see exquisitely woven pieces and you will aproach an understanding of the artistic and philosophic depth of these cultures. You also get to see and meet weavers as they work on their textiles!
Museo asur
Jalka textile

Traveling to Sucre is easy from any main city in Bolivia, such as Santa Cruz or Cochabamba. All you have to do is buy your tickets online and show up at the bus station at least 30 minutes before the trip. Trips from Potosi to Sucre by bus are very frecuent, since the two cities are not far away and the highway that connects them is in very good shape.

We wish you a happy return to museums very soon!

 

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