The Museum of Jade in downtown San Jose is a fantastic cultrience that visitors of any age can enjoy, it’s one of Costa Rica’s best kept secrets housing the largest collection of American Jade in the world. The Museum houses six different halls each focusing on a specific aspect of pre-columbian culture, captured in the jade artwork. There are also nearly 7000 pieces of artwork from a variety of ancient societies including pottery, jewellery, cooking utensils, and spiritual representations of animals and people carved in jade.
On the first floor’s threshold exhibit visitors have the opportunity to learn about the ancient societies that worked with jade as well as view a variety of carvings. This exhibit also contains a large block of jade in its original form that visitors can feel.
The next exhibit, The Jade Hall, has a much larger variety of ornaments and provides in depth information about where different artifacts were discovered, as well as descriptions of how pre-columbian societies functioned. The Museum of Jade focuses just as much on history as it does art, in many ways the two are intertwined throughout the exhibits.
The Day and Night Halls are beautifully laid out galleries that show how daily activities such as agriculture, hunting, and religious observances impacted the art. The halls also show how animals, both nocturnal and otherwise, had an important role in pre-columbian culture. In the Night Hall for example there are countless depictions of the owl as a symbol of philosophy, wisdom, and power.
In the Ancestral Memory Hall different instruments utilized by the indigenous people are displayed and even played over a speaker. Hearing the melodies of the ocarina, or pan flute while browsing the exhibit really brings one back in time. The hall also touches on various traditions that are still carried out in parts of Costa Rica to this day!
In the final collection there are hundreds of objects displayed. They are made from a variety of materials including wood, bone, gold, stone, and of course jade.
The Museum of Jade is centrally located in downtown San Jose and is a great day trip for anyone visiting the city and looking to learn a bit more about Costa Rica’s bountiful history and culture. The Museum also offers student discounts, including students from foreign countries with valid IDs, and children below the age of 10 can enter admission free!