The MAP Museum Cusco also known as the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art can be found in one of the most elegant squares in the bohemian district of San Blas. In this museum you can see a  selection of over 450 works loaned by the Larco Museum in Lima dating from the formative period (1250 BC) to Inca times (1532 AD) which include predominantly ceramics as well as wooden sculptures, utensils, gold and silver and bone and shell.

The exhibition is located in a typical colonial building that housed the Inca ceremonial court around 1450 AD. In 1580 it became  the mansion of the conqueror Alonso Díaz and in 1850 of the Earl of Cabrera. The MAP museum was re-modelled to specifically house the works on display which are all immaculately displayed and illuminated in 10 themed rooms that are arranged around the pretty central colonial courtyard.  This is the only museum in Peru specifically dedicated to showcasing the art of ancient Peruvian cultures and each object is accompanied by brief but sufficient descriptions that make the visit more enjoyable.

The museum is organized in chronological order with a room dedicated to each period in Peru’s history including the formative period, Nasca, Mochica, Huari, Chancay, Chimu and Inca cultures where pieces are primarily ceramic in nature with wide reference to Andean mythology.

Don’t miss the wooden sculpture room where pieces are notable for their similarity to African primitive art, the impressive conch shells used by the Nazca and Moche priests and the gold and silver encrusted funeral attire in the gold and silver rooms.

There is a nice selection of religious paintings from the famous Cuzco School (Escuela de Arte Cusqueña) and throughout the exhibition you will also see quotes of great artists like Paul Gaugin or Albrecht Dürer who were greatly inspired by primitive art.

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  • Don’t miss the selection of shops in the courtyard selling high quality weavings and art. Urubamba-based artist Pablo Seminario has a small store here with a nice selection of his contemporary ceramic creations inspired by the ancient cultures of Peru and you can also find a small outlet for the Cusco Centre of Traditional Textiles.

By Marcos Garcia

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