The national museum was founded in 1897 and has become a cultural center of excellence. In 1949 after Costa Rican government abolished the army, the museum was recollected in the former Bellavista Quarter and declared a historic patrimony.
The museum not only embraces the “memories of the people”, but also researchers, rescues, collects, exhibits, and upholds the cultural and natural patrimony of Costa Rica. Among the collections are:
Archeological: 45,000 pre-Columbia objects made of stone, ceramics, gold, jade and other materials.
Artistic: Sacred Arts (paintings and sculptures)
Historical: documents, stamps, fabrics, weapons, numismatics, antique furniture, and the first printing machine that ever came the country.
Natural: Inside the facilities, there is the National Herbarium, with close to 190.000 specimens distributed among 60.000 insects, 10.000 Costa Rican birds, fossils, mollusks, and vertebrate animals.
Museum Hours: Tuesday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Address: 17 St., Central & 2nd., San José.
Marco Fidel Tristan Jade Museum
The Jade Museum currently exhibits the largest American pre-Colombian jade collections anywhere. It is an archaeological museum with enormous artistic quality pieces made of jade, carved stone, ceramics, and gold.
The archaeological pieces from the South Pacific Caribbean Coast, and Central Intermountain Region are displayed in the different rooms accompanied by maps and objects that serve as a context for the collection.
Museum hours: through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Address: Ave. 7, Sts 9 & 11, San José, 11th floor of the National Insurance Institute.
Costa Rican Art Museum
The charming neocolonial edification from the 1940’s opened its doors to the public on May 3rd. 1978 where once the terminal of the former La Sabana International Airport operated.
Nowadays, the museum has a collection of over 2.500 works of national painters, and is in charge of preserving, and promoting the plastic arts in all its manifestation throughout the country. These works represent the chronological development of the artistic movement in Costa Rica that dates back to 1850.
It has two different collections: Costa Rican and International Art. These are also a beautiful “Golden room”, where the French artist Louis Feron sculpted a stucco high relief and that bathed it with bronze.
Museum hours: Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m
Address: La Sabana Metropolitan Park, San José.
Insect Museum of the University of Costa Rica.
The museum displays more than one million specimens of insects collected from the world throughout different investigations. It is located on the university campus; therefore you can get acquainted with the University of Costa Rica and the museum, all in one visit. Moreover, you can enjoy and discover the different collections of dragonflies, metallic beetles, butterflies, flies and thousands of more insects of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Upon request, you can visit the Leonel Oviedo Reserve, a tropical forest of the Biology School.
Museum hours: Monday through Friday, from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Address: Basement of the Musical Arts Faculty University of Costa Rica.
Central Bank of Costa Rica Museums
These museums include the pre-Colombian Gold Museum, the Numismatic Museum, and the Plastic Arts Collection. They are considered the most valuable in their gender. More than 2,60 ore-Colombian gold pieces are exhibited in a setting that explains the techniques used by the Indians when working with the precious material.
In addition, there is a collection of coins and bills that have been used in the country and which replaced the use of cacao beans as a means of trade.
The building is located underneath the Plaza de la Cultura and represents one of the most contemporary designs of San José. In fact, this structure has become one of the highlights in the history of Costa Rica’s architecture. As a complement to the many exhibits, lectures, courses, workshops, and music and poetry presentations are offered.
Museum Tours: Tuesday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Address: 2nd & Central Ave., 5thSt, San Jose.
Guided tours for private groups are offered with prior appointment, as well individual tours are available with audio recording “Acoustiguide”. There is also a visitors information booth.
This is the first museum of its class in Central America. It is a magical place for both children and adults to learn through playing.
The museum is located in the former Central Penitentiary, which is an impressive well-burned brick structure built in 1906.
The children’s section consists of 32 interactive exhibition rooms where you can see Costa Rican astronaut Franklin Chang’s robot. As well, you can experience an earthquake direct a digital orchestra, travel back in time into Costa Rica’s history, play in a radio station and much more.
Among the facilities is the National Gallery with temporary arts and cinema exhibits of the Central American region, the information and Video Library Center “Carlos Luis Sáens” in which you can obtain information on the scientific-technological and cultural field, and the modern National Auditorium with a capacity of 500 people for congresses, conferences, theater or dance presentations.
In the museum, the history of the penitentiary is recreated and provides visitors with the opportunity of discovering its background, design, construction, penal population and other relates information.
Museum hours: Tuesday to Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Address: Former Penitentiary, San José.