Cusco is the cradle of the Inca civilization and because of that, many archeological artifacts were discovered throughout the region. There are several museums in the former capital of the Incas that look to portray the most important eras of our country and here we have gathered the top 5 of them.
Although one may think that Peru is all about the Incas, this civilization tells just a fraction of the cultural evolution of our country.
The best way to get fully immersed in our extensive history is by also visiting the museums that have dedicated years of studies for the understanding and preservation of the legacy of such important civilizations in Peru.
If you’re eager to know more about our extensive history, the Imperial City might have the best museums and galleries to help you do so. Luckily, most of them are located within walking distance from the Plaza de Armas in the Historic Center of Cusco.
Although many ancient artifacts were lost during the colonization process, further excavations and expeditions on the ancient capital of the Incas and its surroundings granted a major understanding on the way of living of this famous civilization.
The Inka Museum has been run by the Universidad Nacional de San Antonio Abad del Cusco (UNSAAC) since the 1950s and looks to portray the cultural evolution of the Cusqueñan lands since pre-Inca times.
Therefore, the museum not only showcases archeological findings and history of the Incas but also the previous civilizations that marked the flourishing valleys of Cusco and those cultural identities of the country that paved the way to succeeding societies.
The Museo Inca is located within an old colonial mansion that dates back to the decade of the 1580s, an old structure that served as the residence of Diego Almagro and later, the Admiral Francisco Aldrete Maldonado.
However, like most buildings within the historic center, this colonial house was built on top of the remains of the palace of Huascar, the penultimate emperor of the Tahuantinsuyo.
Nowadays, it serves as the headquarters of this important museum and exhibits Inca mummies, the largest Inca pottery collection, pre-Inca metal and gold work, and much more.
Operating Hours: Monday to Friday – From 08:00h to 18:00h. / Saturdays – From 09:00h to 16:00h.
Entrance: General – S/.10.00, Students – S/. 5.00.
Address: Cuesta el Almirante 103, Cusco.
Pre-Columbian Art Museum
Our history goes beyond the Inca culture and the Pre-Columbian Art Museum looks to showcase the different societies that marked our country. There you’ll find different art pieces traced back to the first ever documented cultural identities of Peru.
The Museo de Arte Precolombino was born out of the initiative to preserve over 400 archeological pieces found across the country. It was founded in 2003 under the alliance of the BBVA Foundation and the renowned Larco Museum.
The site holds ten galleries that portray the cultural and artistic evolutions of the ancient Peruvians, divided by regions, eras and material types. It is one of the most important museums in Cusco thanks to its extensive and widely diverse collection.
Peru was the cradle of many important civilizations and each of them influenced the development of the ones that succeeded them. This museum gives us a broaders glimpse at the history of our country, as well as the understanding of their traditions, rituals and religious beliefs.
Currently, the Casa Cabrera is the headquarters of the museum, a 500-year-old mansion that belonged to Don Alonso Díaz. This colonial structure was also built on top of a Inca settlement, presumably a ‘Yachaywasi,’ known as an educational center for children of the Inca elite.
Operating Hours: Monday to Sunday – From 09:00h to 22:00h.
Entrance: General – S/.20.00, Students – S/. 10.00.
Address: Plazoleta Nazarenas 231, Cusco.
Contemporary Art Museum
It is located within the Palacio Municipal del Cusco, which was built in 1972. This museum was founded thanks to the donation of art pieces with the mission to provide a platform to explore the local and foreign artistic expression.
Nowadays, it has over 280 pieces and counts with 3 exhibition rooms. One of the most significant artworks in this facility is the famous oil painting of Remigia Mendoza: Río Vilcanota (1897). The museum looks to showcase the current artistic expression of the region, along with some of the most important contemporary art pieces of the region.
The Contemporary Art Museum of Cusco has gained more popularity over the years, something that has made possible the annual exhibition of over 50 individual and collective expositions of national and international artists.
Address: Calle Espinar 270, Cusco.
Operating Hours: Monday to Saturday – 09:00h to 18:30h
Entrance: Cusco Tourist Ticket (Already included in all our travel packages)
Machu Picchu Museum – Casa Concha
The famous Inca Citadel holds many mysteries and riddles yet to be solved and the Machu Picchu Museum looks to uncover the actual purpose of the site in just one place. This outstanding exhibition showcases many archeological findings of the historical sanctuary, along with information about the Hiram Bingham expedition.
The Machu Picchu Museum was founded in 2011, just after retrieving over 100 archeological artifacts held by the Yale University since 1912. Nowadays, the Museo Casa Concha holds over 300 Inca pieces, including jewels, pottery, textiles, partial skeletons and much more.
All of these archeological findings were discovered during the excavation of Machu Picchu led by Hiram Bingham, the famous historian that unveiled the outstanding structure of the Inca Citadel to the rest of the world.
The museum is located within a colonial building that dates back to 1710, built on top of one of the most important Inca settlements of the city, the Palace of Tupac Inca Yupanqui, descendant of Pachacutec.
Currently, it is administered by the Universidad Nacional de San Antonio Abad del Cusco, which has made it possible to have another glance at how life could have been in the Historical Sanctuary of Machu Picchu.
Operating Hours: Monday to Friday – From 09:00h to 17:00h.
Entrance: Foreign Tourists – S/.20.00 | Foreign Students – S/. 5.00.
Address: Santa Catalina Ancha 320, Cusco.
Although the Coricancha Museum is one of the smallest in the city, it is yet one of the most important. For those who may not know, the Qorikancha Temple was the principal worship center of the Inca culture and comprised an outstanding architectural style.
According to Spanish chroniclers, the temple walls were covered with thin layers of gold, silver and precious stones. However, the site was completely sacked during the colonization process and the structure was partially destroyed.
Thanks to the excavations and studies carried out between 1992 and 1995, some pre-Inca, inca and colonial pieces were retrieved and are now showcased at the 5 galleries of the Coricancha Museum.
Operating Hours: Monday to Saturday – From 08:00h to 17:00h.
Entrance: Cusco Tourist Ticket
Address: Av. El Sol 526, Cusco.
These are only 5 of the many art and historical museums in Cusco, where you’ll get a glimpse at the cultural evolution of our ancestors. The Imperial City holds many attractions and to help you organize the perfect itinerary, here’s a blog about the different things to do in Cusco city.
Likewise, if you’re looking to experience the ancient land of the Incas at its fullest, don’t forget to check our Peru travel packages and start planning that perfect trip you’ve been longing for.