Fun and Educational Intiñan Museum

Since the year 1960, the Intiñan Museum in Quito has been a center for the promotion of the many aspects of Ecuador’s culture. As the founder of the museum, Humberta Vera initiated a study of the equatorial zone from a scientific point of view, later expanding this to include research into the surrounding communities through the ages, and defining the sociological, political, cultural and communal aspects of the people living in what is often referred to as the Center of the World. The Intiñan Museum has developed into an attraction that is both entertaining and educational.

One of the features of the museum is the Totemic Forest – a display of totems that have been sponsored by various foundations and embassies. The intricately carved totems represent the belief in protective spirits of the various clans, and how these are related to the Sun God revered by the ancient Incas and still honored today. Visitors will appreciate the skill involved in creating totems such as Apu-Amaru, Tiki, Rehue, Jaguar, Atlante de Tula and Guailiche and can learn about the history and meaning of the totems towering over them.

The museum features a number of interactive exhibits demonstrating events that occur only on the equator. These include the complex Coriolis Effect, as well as simple, but effective and entertaining, demonstrations such as water going down a drain with no whirlpool, eggs balancing on the head of a nail, and the loss of muscle strength experienced when standing precisely on the line of the equator.

In addition to the art gallery featuring local artists, the Intiñan Museum has two on-site functioning communities that give visitors insight into customs, rituals and traditions of rural life. The buildings are constructed in the same manner they have been for hundreds of years, and a variety of indigenous flora flourishes, while guinea pigs, tortoises and llamas wander freely in the community. Traditional handicrafts, hunting and fishing equipment, as well as medicinal plants are also on display, with items for sale as mementos. A permanent exhibition of the Quechua-speaking peoples of the Amazon region features the macabre ritual of head shrinking known as tzantza. Dancing and music performances bring the colorful culture of the Ecuadorian people to life and workshops are offered to schools and other educational centers, as well as the general public. Certainly there is plenty to keep the entire family entertained at the Intiñan Museum.