The Best Museums in Peru
We’ve put together a carefully curated, handpicked list of some of the best museums in Peru. We’ve also included few others to check out if you have extra time! They are organized by destination including Lima, Arequipa, Cusco, and the North.
Best Museums in Lima
Lima’s museums showcase some of the country’s finest treasures, while providing insight into the country’s ancient civilizations and historic sites which can then explored in greater depth elsewhere in the country.
Larco Museum, Lima Opening hours: Monday – Sunday 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. (including public holidays)
House in an elegant, whitewashed mansion, the Larco Museum hosts the world’s largest private collection of Pre-Columbian art including ceramics, gold and silver jewelry and an extensive selection of ceramics from the Moche culture – featuring memorable erotic pottery. In addition to the museum, the property includes a gorgeous garden and a top notch restaurant.
MATE, Lima Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
For those interested in photography, internationally-acclaimed contemporary Peruvian photographer Mario Testino showcases some of his work at MATE, the Mario Testino Museum in Barranco. Small but select, the Museum’s permanent collection features his celebrity shots, including the likes of Kate Moss and Princess Diana, as well as his Peruvian Alta Moda (High Fashion). The temporary exhibition rooms has had exhibits such as Andy Warhol Film Portraits complete with an interactive room to film your own screen test.
Pedro de Osma Museum, Lima Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Stepping back in time, a treasured collection of colonial paintings, sculpture and silver is located in the Pedro de Osma Museum, a beautiful mansion with manicured gardens in Barranco, just moments from MATE.
MAC, Lima Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Also in Barranco, MAC, the Museum of Contemporary Art makes for an interesting visit with three rooms displaying modern art exhibits which change every few months. One exhibit from 2015 includes works by American photographer David LaChapelle from different artistic phases in his life.
MALI, Lima Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
In the center of Lima, MALI, the Museum of Art in Lima, has a large collection of art spanning the last 3,000 years including textiles, ceramics, photographs and furniture from Colonial and Republican times.
National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History of Peru, Lima Opening hours: Tuesday – Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Sunday 9:00 a.m. – 3:30p.m.
The National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History of Peru has comprehensive collection of pottery and artifacts from Peru´s Pre-Columbian cultures located in exhibition rooms surrounding a lovely courtyard. The first Friday of every month is “Noche de los Museos” or Museum Night, when many museums and cultural centers in Lima offer free visits from 5-10pm.
Best Museums in Arequipa
The Convent of Santa Catalina, founded in 1579, is a massive architectural complex with Spanish-style cobblestone streets named after cities in Spain. Visitors can see where more than 200 nuns once lived, including stepping foot in their bedrooms and kitchens, preserved as they once were.
Opening hours: May – December 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. January – April 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday until 8:00 p.m
Santa Teresa Monastery is a Vice-regal museum and another must-see site in Arequipa. Aracari can arrange specialist guiding and exclusive access visits with the Director of Santa Teresa, Franz Grupp.
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m, Sunday 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
To see a sacrificed Incan ”mummy” over 500 years old, visit the Museum of Andean Sanctuaries. Juanita was a young teenage girl sacrificed in the 1500s and later discovered, frozen in almost perfect condition in 1995.
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m, Sunday 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m
Best Museums in Cusco
MAP, the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art is housed in a colonial-era casona and contains Peruvian artifacts from prior to the arrival of the Spaniards.
MAP, Cusco Opening hours: Monday – Sunday 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m (including public holidays)
There are also various museums in Cusco to see and learn about textiles, artifacts from Machu Picchu and more, such as Casa Concha Museum, home of thousands of artifacts taken during Hiram Bingham’s discovery of Machu Picchu in 1912.
Casa Concha, Cusco Opening hours: Monday – Saturday 9:00a.m. – 5:00p.m.
Best Museums in Northern Peru
The Museum of the Royal Tombs of Sipán in Lambayeque is remarkable museum in the North of Peru, built to contain the treasures of one of Peru’s most important archaeological discoveries: the tomb of the Lord of Sipán, a Moche royal figure found buried with many ornaments, emblems and other treasures. The museum is teeming with gold and glistening pieces and has a striking architectural design, inspired by the pyramids of the Moche culture.
Museum of the Royal Tombs of Sipán, Lambayeque Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Best Museums in Peru: Rest of the country
There are many other museums of interest in Peru, including some intriguing curiosities. In Lima the Museum of the Inquisition is the former headquarters of the Inquisition for all of Spanish America from 1570-1820, complete with replicas of torture methods from this dark period in Peru’s history.
The Nicolini Collection of Classic Cars in the La Molina neighborhood of Lima is a museum that includes 120 cars manufactured between 1901 and 1975 among other interesting tidbits for car lovers. The Museum of Electricity in Barranco, Lima, is a small museum dedicated entirely to the history and development of electricity in Peru and even has one of the last electrical train cars parked out front.
For families, check out the ChocoMuseo with interactive chocolate workshops, a museum and a shop with locations in Lima or Cusco. In Cusco, for a quick stop, there is the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco, a small shop operated by local communities that sells handmade and woven textiles from the region, and includes an exhibition of how the textiles were made. Elsewhere in the country, the Museo del Juguete, or Toy Museum, in Trujillo hosts a private collection of over 4,000 antique toys including many dolls from Peru and Europe.
Aracari arranges exclusive access visits to Peru’s best museums. Meet the curators, visit collections usually not accessible to the public and get a behind-the-scenes insight into top museums. Read more about our specialists guides and contact us for more information.
Contact us for travel advice and information. Aracari specializes in private, tailormade trips to Peru.