The Museo del Oro y de Numismática – a gem in San José

Sunday is another day that is free from studying Spanish. Today we visit the Museo del Oro Precomolombino y de Numismática in San José. The afternoon is reserved for family visits.

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A very, very beautiful museum shop

When we arrive around nine, the gates to the underground museum at Plaza de la Cultura are just being opened. The museum shop looks very inviting. It sells handcrafted work produced by the remaining 2100 Indígenas or natives from Costa Rica. High quality artwork! Masks, objects made out of woven textile, calabaza, gold and terra cotta. I would love to buy it all, but my suitcase is to small. Here are some samples.

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Museo de Oro: An great overview of pre-columbian life and artifacts

The precolombian inhabitants of Costa Rica were at the intersection of the high cultures of Mexico and of the Andes, and produced wonderful small artifacts made out of gold, both by negative form wax casting anf by positive form hammering. The motives are taken from nature which is illustrated by an interactive rain forest mockup. The artifacts date from 500 to 1500 AD. It is sad for me to read the edict of the gobernator that had the natives expelled from their homelands in 1665.

Here are two examples, a bat…

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… and a frog.

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Also beautful pottery was manufactured by the pre-columbian natives.

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… and music instruments.

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At an interactive desks visitors can compose their own precolumbian music, a great idea that we have not tried out though.

You can also learn, how the precolumbian natives lived, how they organized their spiritual lifes (women played an important role) and how they buried their dead.

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The numismatic department – entertaining and informative

The numismatic museums I have seen so far, are nothing but a boring display of coins and more coins under glass. But this numismatic museum is different. It makes the link between money and history in Costa Rica. Precolumbian lived in a barter economy. In 1821 Costa Rica became part of the centralamerican confederation which was reflected in the coins. From 1838 onwards, the now independent nation of Costa Rica had heir own coins. The coins were called Escudos and Reales. This is an Escudo of 1850.

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From 1896 onwards the money was called Colones. In 1950, the Central Bank of Costa Rica bought this printing machine from Heidelberg that was in use until 1994.

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Heidelberg, this is the town where I was born, and from here the brother and sister of my grandfather emigrated to Costa Rica. The cousin of my father built up the “Los Peters” coffee business in Sarchi in the 50-ies. I loop back to my roots. And in the afternoon, we visit two of my cousins descending from the “los Peters family”. We received a great welcome… wonderful and thank you.

 

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