There is no doubt that Bolivia has a cultural authenticity much stronger than that of its surrounding neighbors. While Bolivia was subjected to conquest by the Spanish in the same way as the rest of Latin America was, the indigenous undertones in Bolivia are seemingly closer to the surface and more evident in everyday life. Perhaps it’s the fact that you still encounter merchants on the street for whom Spanish is a second language or those traditionally dressed women wearing bowler hats who have ceased to relinquish their cultural roots.
This cultural heritage is something to be treasured before it’s lost, and one of the first people to realize this was an Archbishop by the name of Jose Manuel Indaburo, the man credited as being responsible for founding the Bolivian National Museum of Archeology in 1846, with a small private collection. With so many artifacts of Bolivia’s various cultures - Tiwanaku, Mollo, Chiripa and Inca - being lost to Spanish conquest and European museums, Indaburo mandated that as many of these treasures as possible should remain at home in Bolivia.
The result of his efforts over 150 years ago have now yielded a Bolivian National Museum of Archeology which is located in the capital of La Paz and serves as an insightful look into the mystifying relics of Bolivia’s past. Wander the halls, gaze at artifacts dating back as far as 1,500 BC and trace the history of the indigenous peoples from eras long forgotten through the art which is still being produced today. A cultural sanctuary steeped in anthropological import and intrigue, there are few places better to gain an understanding of the various tribes and cultures which once sprawled across Bolivia than at the National Museum of Archeology.