Friday, July 6, 2012

A Journey of a Lifetime ( Part 2 ) - The Larco Herrera Museum

The Larco Herrera Archaeological Museum is located in Pueblo Libre, near the upscale neighborhood of Miraflores. It was founded in 1926. As you enter the Larco Herrera Archaeological Museum you will be greeted by at least 20 beautiful bougainvillea varieties. 

The Larco Herrera Museum represents an architectural heritage of national significance. The museum is known to have the biggest private collection of pre-Columbian art that exists in the world. You will find over 45,000 archaeological pieces on gold, ceramics and textiles that have been classified by renowned specialists and scholars. The Larco Herrera Museum is one of the most visited Peruvian tourist attractions. Here you can also find an incomparable collection of “Erotic Huacos” or Erotic Art ( pre-Hispanic ceramic relics representing animals, persons and objects). This museum is more famous for its Moche art.

The main idea of Rafael Larco Hoyle, an archeologist and the founder of the Larco Museum in 1926, was to share his passion for pre-Columbian art and its development until the Spanish arrival. This passion made him investigate and discover important masterpieces that are considered today as  worldwide icons of Pre-Columbian art. 

Each area of the museum is fascinating and offers a complete collection of the pre-Columbian everyday life objects including crowns, earrings, nose ornaments, garments, masks and vases, finely wrought in gold and decorated with semi-precious stones. In the erotic gallery you will be intrigued by all the Moche jars and by the ceramic pots showing, in a certainly realistic and humoristic way, their sexual habits.

We were able to see the highlights of this museum. I will enumerate the rooms as we go along the way.

With 45,000 artifacts found in this museum.... it will take you a whole month to view each and every artifact. I have decided to divide the artifacts into several groups and took photos of which artifact I liked best. 

1. The Evolution of Civilization ( The Mochica collection ): It shows the remarkable chronological galleries of ancient potteries providing an excellent overview on 4500 years of development of Peruvian pre-Columbian history. 

This portrait vessel, with its commanding features, depicts a prominent ancient Moche ruler from northern Peru. The Moche people were masters of sculpture and frequently depicted elite individuals through sculpture, often creating record of their childhood, adulthood and even death. 

2. The Textile Room : Here we can see the first textile remains such as nets, ropes and bags that  appeared during the Pre-Ceramic era. These were manufactured with vegetable fibers that were simply twisted or rolled up. I loved this room -- you can see the bright colors used by these people. 

Here is a showcase of all the weaving tools they used.

This was the last piece of weaving implement that was discovered. This was used by the people in making beautiful tapestries, blankets and daily wear.

3. The Nasca Culture room

4. Erotic Room or " Erotica Huacos ": There's a special room devoted to erotic archaeological treasures. These are not your run-of-the-mill phallic symbols, but a collection of ceramic pots portraying a variety of sexual positions and acts — the Kama Sutra in clay.

5. The Gold Room: This room holds the most important pieces in gold, silver and gilded copper from a number of Peru's different pre-Columbian cultures.

6. The Storage room: Museums all over the world usually exhibit only 20% of their entire collection, but  the Larco Herrera Museum is one of the few museums in the world that allows its visitors to go into its classified storage area.

As we entered the storage room --- it felt like we were entering a pottery gallery. The whole room was filled with artifacts from floor to ceiling. By just seeing these artifacts you would think that they were newly made... but our tour guide said that  all the artifacts found were centuries old and they were preserved very well due to the lack of rainfall in the region. It was also interesting to know that it never rains in Lima... in fact the last  thunderstorm in the country was in 1976. According to our guide, Jose, Lima is the second largest city in the world that is considered a desert like Egypt.

This opportunity to see 45,000 objects duly arranged, catalogued and classified by culture has become an extraordinary and unforgettable experience of Lulu and me. Our trip to this museum lasted 3 1/2 hours but there were many rooms we wanted to see.... I hope you liked all the photos which I have posted --- ( there are still a lot more photos I was not able to post in this blog )..

( courtesy of Lulu Kamatoy )

I would say without hesitation that if you see only one museum in Lima, make it the Larco Herrera Museum.  Their specialty is ceramics and what a collection of ceramics they have!!! The quality and workmanship that went into some of these pieces is unmatched any where in the world. I was personnaly impressed by the storage area ---where there were more than 38.000 pieces of art (mainly ceramic)!! This visit helped us understand more about Peru and was definitly a good start for our trip throughout the country! It is a " must see " when you go to Peru.

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