Many travelers to Cuzco are familiar with the Inca, the native inhabitants of the Peruvian Andes who were brutally conquered by the Spanish. Fewer people, however, are familiar with the Moche, Nazca, Chimu, and Chancay whose histories date back for thousands of years. Though only a handful of sights remain from these cultures, their legacy remains through the various art forms which have survived throughout Peru’s many conquests.
When visiting Cuzco, the Pre-Columbian Art Museum is a private collection of over 450 pieces which highlight the art from these ancient cultures. Set inside of the Casa Cabrera—itself a masterful piece of architecture which was once a ceremonial house for the Inca—the 11 different showrooms highlight art which dates as far back as 1250 BC.
Fine pottery and ancient ceramics accompany sculptures of silver and gold. There is jewelry made from seashells and bone, and numerous carvings etched out of wood tell the story of Peru’s native people. Unlike a number of other museums, photography is allowed throughout the exhibit, and displays in English provide informative tips for gaining some deeper insight on the art. There is a small café as well as a store which are located within the complex, and the fact the museum stays open so late makes it a late-evening option for when other museums are closed.
Though not as large as the Larco Museum in Lima, the Pre-Columbian Art Museum is still a fascinating stop in Cuzco for those who appreciate cultural art.