When we visit a city for the first time, museums rank high on the “to do” list, alongside major landmarks and local gastronomy. More than examining artifacts, paintings by great masters and sculptures created by artisans of an ancient civilization, museums are spaces for reflection, where the past and present are separated by a pane of glass. As we move from one exhibition room to the next, we can cover thousands of years of history and culture, and as objects change, so too, the story of those who made them.
The Museo del Oro – Gold Museum – is all about stories and one legend in particular that draws in visitors from all over the world. While El Dorado was more legend in the minds of the Spanish conquistadores, the mountainous territory of the Muisca peoples with high-altitude lagoons and solar observatories, thrived in what is today, the departments of Cundinamarca and Boyacá.
The year in which the Museo del Oro is celebrating its octogenarian anniversary will also be remembered by future generations for the coronavirus pandemic, and while the museum would have liked to welcome 650,000 visitors in person, the nationwide quarantine has given the governing entity, Banco de la República, a unique opportunity to showcase its collection to a global audience.
While the most dazzling works of the collection remain vaulted inside the Ceremonial Salon, with a cellphone or tablet, one can explore the four exhibition rooms and zoom-in on specific items, among them, the gold Muisca raft and museum’s first acquisition: a 770-gram Poporo belonging to the Quimbaya culture.
Available as a free download for Android and iOS, the Gold Museum’s new App shines with innovation and delivers audio in five languages – Spanish, English, French, Brazilian Portuguese and Colombian Sign Language (LSC), for the hearing impaired. The App was created by Gvam, a Spanish technology company that also developed interactive guides for Granada’s Alhambra Palace, Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela and Royal Palace of Madrid. As part of Museo del Oro’s experience, each virtual tour combines images with sound, offering visitors detailed explanations of the techniques used in ancient metallurgy, pre-Hispanic cultural diversity, cosmology and sacred rituals.
As Banco de la República gradually begins reopening public libraries and museums, this App is a wonderful introduction to an award-winning museum at the heart of the capital, and while gold is always the attraction, the protagonist in every story is Colombia.