Museo Larco: A Private Peruvian History Tour

Private museums are always a curiosity. It’s easy to understand how public museums come about — they are usually filled with findings from government- or academic-funded excavations. Private museums, however, gain a high measure of prestige when you consider the fact that the owner has bought his pieces from other collectors, or from private expeditions.

Museo Larco

Museo Larco

The latter is the case of Peru’s Museo Larco, a private museum located in the Pueblo Libre district. Housed in an 18th-century building (which in itself is built atop a Pre-Columbian pyramid dating to the 7th century), the museum is well-known for its rich galleries. It is also famous for showcasing approximately 10,000 years of Peruvian history.

The museum had its origins in 1925, when Rafael Larco Herrera received some archeological pieces from his brother-in-law. These ceramic pieces became the first of an expansive collection acquired by his son, Rafael Larco Hoyle. As the collection grew, Hoyle was encouraged by his uncle to open a museum that was meant to safeguard the treasures excavated by clandestine expeditions. Thus, merely a year later, the Museo Larco opened its doors to the public.

Museo LarcoThree Exhibitions of Museo Larco

The museum is divided into three major types of exhibitions:

Permanent Exhibits
These are divided into several major categories, such as the Gold and Silver galleries showcasing pre-Columbian royal jewelry and the famous Gallery of Erotic Pottery — the world’s largest such collection!

There is also the Cultures gallery, which highlights Peruvian history through indigenous art. The exhibits are also presented in a chronological order, allowing the visitors to walk through the halls of time and view the cultures of various regions, from the highlands to the coast.

Temporary Exhibits
There are also various local and international exhibitions spearheaded by the Museo Larco. Most notably, the museum lends some of its collections to the Museo de Arte Precolombino (its daughter museum) in Cusco.

Virtual Exhibits
In a masterful marriage of the old and the new, the museum’s curatorial team also leads various virtual exhibits that allow a greater deal of interactivity between the pieces and the visitors.

Museo LarcoBut aside from the exhaustive number of pieces on display, one of the museum’s outstanding points is its visitor-friendly collection of knowledge about them. There is an online catalog that visitors can browse should they wish to look for particular pieces, and there is also a rich body of studies concerning the collection. These studies cover everything from the items origin to its preservation, along with its analysis. There are also easily-accessible libraries and introductions, along with curated sets of masterpieces and even a “piece of the month”.

Museo LarcoVisiting the museum is a real pleasure, and even though its exhibits can be overwhelming at the start, it does an excellent job of breaking everything down into easily-understandable segments. See for yourself — the museum is open all days of the year, from 9AM to 10PM. The only exception is New Year’s Day, when Museo Larco closes its doors at 6PM. Don’t forget to check out the shop as well, where you can take home replicas of some famous pieces crafted by skilled Peruvian craftsmen!

Museo Larco
Museo Larco

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