This may not be a popular opinion but I don’t love every museum I visit. And many museums in Bogota have been disappointing. For the last six months I’ve been in and out of some amazing art museums in Latin America and art galleries and so I’m a tough customer.
In Mexico I spent hours looking at things I wasn’t entirely interested in, mostly pottery, and now I no longer need to see everything or feign interest.
I don’t like everything and I haven’t had a great experience with all of the museums in Bogota. But I understand that everyone has their own preferences with museums and art galleries so I wanted to share all of the options.
Best and Worst Museums in Bogota
This Botero museum is one of the most famous and popular in Bogota, having been founded in 2000. This followed a donation of art from the Colombian artist and sculptor Fernando Botero Angulo to the Colombian people.
This was made up of a combination of his own work and his collection of art from other internationally renowned artists. One of the most dramatic pieces to be found in the collection is a bold sculpture of a hand by Botero that you will see as you enter the reception area.
Among the collection of art that is housed within the museum are pieces by some of the great painters from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Among the names that you will find on some of the plaques in the museum include Monet, Picasso, Dali and Chagall. This makes it one of the most important art collections to be found in South America.
The museum is housed in a colonial mansion in the La Candelaria neighbourhood of the city. Go early as over a thousand people visit daily. Entrance to the Botero museum is free.
Photography is allowed as long as no flash is used.
Calle 11 #4-41, Bogota Colombia
Open 9am – 7pm every day except: Sunday – 10am – 5pm
Phone: 1 3431316
El Museo Del Oro (The Bogota Gold Museum)
The Museo del Oro was just that – a Bogota museum of gold. I had visited a much smaller version in Cartagena and realized when I arrived at the Bogota museum that I really didn’t care to see any more.
However, if you haven’t been to Cartagena the museum of gold is very impressive.
This museum covers one of the most common subjects in South America. Gold has long been associated with many of the pre-Columbian civilizations in the region.
Probably the most famous attraction is a depiction of the El Dorado legend with the chief of the Muisca people on a raft during the investiture ceremony. The sculpture is nearly 20 centimetres in length, and is an impressive piece of craftsmanship.
Elsewhere in the museum there is a huge collection of different artifacts, which are generally arranged by the culture that produced them. Among the attractions are the artistic depictions of animals and the masks that have been produced. There are also female figures from the north of the region, and also figurines known as tunjos, which were thrown into Lake Guatavita as an offering.
It is a busy museum.
There are over a thousand visitors every day. Sundays there is no entry fee and so it’s even busier. The descriptive plaques are in Spanish and English, while there are also tours in Spanish and English available. Photography is welcomed as long as you are not using flash.
Entrance is COP 4,000 or about $1.25 USD.
Museo del Oro
Carrera 6, #15-88 Bogota, Colombia
Open Tuesday to Saturday 9am-6pm, Sunday 10am – 4pm Sunday
Phone: 1 3432222
Museo del Arte Colonial Bogota (Museum Of Colonial Art)
One of the most transformative periods in Colombia and South America as a whole was the arrival of the European explorers in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
This had a dramatic impact on the indigenous population, with conflict and conquering of the region leading to numerous deaths. This museum offers a particular look at the art and creative pursuits of those who arrived in the region during this period.
The attractions of the museum include a range of paintings, sculpture, furniture, jewellery, maps and other documents of interest. One of the most prominent artists of the period, Gregorio Vasquez has many oil paintings and drawings on display here.
Many of the paintings also deal with the religious changes during the period, where the Europeans brought Christianity with them to this part of the world.
The museum is hosted in a colonial mansion in the La Candelaria district of the city, with a pleasant garden in the courtyard.
A recent renovation has also seen a number of English plaques added to make it easier for international visitors to explore. This is a peaceful place which offers an interesting look at the colonial expansion into South America.
Museum of Colonial Art
Carrera 6 – #9-77, Bogota Colombia
Open Tuesday to Friday 9am-4.30pm; Saturday and Sunday 10am-3.30pm
Phone: 1 3416017
Museo Santa Clara
While some museums may host a range of historical artifacts, the Museo Iglesia Santa Clara is a historic monument itself.
The seventeenth century Baroque church was retired from formal church duty in 1968, and converted into a museum by the government.
Today it is not only a beautiful building, but host to a wonderful selection of art from the seventeenth to the twentieth century, with a particular focus on Baroque style artworks.
One of the grandest aspects of the museum is the spectacular altarpiece that has several sculptures of Jesus, the disciples and other biblical figures, each in their own arch. The frame is gilded in gold leaf, and is a spectacular sight to behold.
The walls of the church are lined with several rows of beautiful paintings. There are several religious scenes that reflect the Bogota museum’s history as a church. There are plenty of other pieces throughout this old church as well, including some impressive sculptures and carvings, along with the spectacular decorated roof.
While most of the plaques in the museum are in Spanish, there are a series of interactive panels that do have explanations in English and other languages. The museum is located within the La Candelaria historic district of the city, and is well worth a visit.
Museo Santa Clara
Carrera 8, #8-91, Bogota Colombia
Open Tuesday to Friday 9am-4.45pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am-3:45pm
Phone: 1 3376762
Casa Museo Francisco Jose de Caldas
This museum is the former home of the eighteenth and nineteenth century lawyer and scientist Francisco Jose de Caldas.
Among his academic pursuits were geography, mathematics and botany. As well, he was a gifted inventor. In later life he also became a member of the military, and was one of the leading proponents of the independence of New Granada. However, he was finally caught by the Spanish royalists, and executed in 1816.
There are also a selection of documents such as maps and astronomical charts, along with several examples of his work. If you are planning to visit is that as it is a small museum, most of the plaques and explanations of the exhibits are in Spanish.
Nonetheless it is an interesting and attractive museum to visit in Bogota. Admission to the museum is free.
Carrera 8, #6-87, Bogota, Colombia
Opening Monday to Friday 9am-4pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am-3pm
Phone: 1 2896275
The Colombian National Museum is one of the grandest and most impressive museums in the whole of South America. This Bogota museum has a collection of over 20,000 items. The breadth of the collections cover many areas, including the history of Colombia and South America. It covers its archaeology, along with the culture and the art of the country.
The National Museum may have been interesting if I hadn’t already been traveling for 6 months through Latin America. I had already seen more than my fair share of pottery, indigenous relics and old military gear.
One of the most interesting aspects of the museum is the area looking at the period when Colombia became independent. It’s a great opportunity to learn about Simon Bolivar. There are some interesting exhibits in this area, and it provides a great overview of the independence of the country.
As well, there are also some interesting rooms and exhibits looking at the archaeological history of Colombia, with a smaller section of gold and artifacts that have been found in the country.
There is also a section on the modern culture of Colombia, with some nice pieces of modern art.
The museum itself is housed in a sturdy building, and if you think that it doesn’t look like a museum, you’d be right!
It is actually a former prison that was built in the first half of the nineteenth century. Many of the rooms in the museum are former cells.
Entrance is free.
There are English-language tours of the museum every Tuesday at 4pm. Non-flash photography is permitted at the museum.
Carrera 7, #28-66, Bogota, Colombia
Open Tuesday to Saturday 10am-6pm, Sunday 10am-5pm
Phone: 1 3816470
MamBo (Museum of Modern Art of Bogota)
As the name suggests, this museum is one that particularly focuses on the contemporary art. It features an impressive collection of both domestic and international artists.
I really wanted to love this space. But it may have been one of the most disappointing modern art museums I have visited – here’s what others have said.
There are six exhibition rooms in total. Each one focuses on different aspects of modern art, with photography, video and sculpture featured. As well there are more traditional painting and drawing mediums on display. There is also a small cinema that shows artistic films from Colombia and South America.
The collections of modern art are almost all from the last century. You can see some of the impressive names featured in the collection including Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and the domestic artist Fernando Botero. There are also some of the Marilyn Monroe silkscreen paintings from Andy Warhol. There are also regular temporary exhibitions that offer a varied perspective on modern art from South America and beyond.
The museum is housed in an impressive building designed by Rogelio Salmona. This is certainly not the largest museum in the Colombian capital, but has some different exhibits to what you will find elsewhere.
Photography is not allowed at this museum.
Entrance is COP 12000 about $3.65 USD.
Calle 24, #6-00, Bogota, Colombia
Open Tuesday to Saturday 10am – 6pm, Sunday 12pm-5pm
Phone: 1 2860466
What Do I Think of Bogota Museums Now?
It’s not that I don’t want to learn interesting facts about Colombia, I think I just have museum fatigue. But Bogota won brownie points when I decided to give it one more chance and head to the Banco de la Republica Art Collection. It has a free entrance so there was nothing to lose on a cold, rainy Bogota morning.
While much of it was dedicated to Botero there was also work from Picasso, Salvador Dali and other international artists.
But what captured my attention and inspired me was a new exhibition about Mexican design. It focused on every day life in Mexico including restaurant graphics, burlesque and wrestling.
Map of Museums in Bogota
You can see many of these Bogota museums in just one day. It’s a perfect rainy day activity as so many of them are close together.
While many of the museums in Bogota are free, the others are not very expensive to visit. So it’s worth going even if you aren’t sure you’ll like them.