History and Culture in Quito’s Museums

Visitors to Ecuador’s capital city will find a treasure trove of history and culture in Quito’s various museums, and should plan to include at least one or more on their itinerary. History and art enthusiasts will appreciate the Museo Nacional del Banco Central (Central Bank Museum) which has five exhibition areas devoted to artifacts from pre-Colombian and pre-historic eras, as well as works by contemporary and historical artists. The museum uses multimedia exhibits to guide visitors through the fascinating journey of Ecuador’s history and the significance of its art.

Dedicated to the lover of Simon Bolívar who came to be known as the ‘Liberator of the Liberator’, the Museo Manuela Sáenz is located in a colonial-style house and has some fascinating information and artifacts detailing the role Manuela Sáenz played in the liberation of Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. A visit to the museum includes the viewing of a documentary film on the life of Manuela Sáenz, who was born in Quito in 1797, and her unwavering dedication to a cause she believed in. Visitors can view love letters between the two historical figures, as well as paintings, household items and Simón Bolívar’s silver dagger and his gun. Following the death of Bolívar, Manuela Sáenz was deported to Jamaica, but later made her way to Peru where she remained until her death in 1856.

Located in one of Quito’s oldest buildings which once served as a hospital, the Museo de la Ciudad (City Museum) uses interactive audiovisual displays, dioramas, paintings, drawings, wax figures and exhibits to take visitors through the history of Ecuador from 10,000 BC through to modern times. Tourists can easily include a visit to the museum when exploring this charming historical part of the city, often referred to simply as Old Quito.

Other museums in Quito include the Guayasamín Museum, dedicated to Ecuadorian artist Oswaldo Guayasamín; Mitad del Mundo featuring fun facts and interactive displays related to the equator; Museo Camilo Egas, devoted to works by one of Ecuador’s top artists; and Casa Museo Maria Augusta Urrutia, the former home of aristocratic philanthropist Maria Augusta.