7 x the best museums in Lima, Peru!

by Deborah Durrfeld
museums Lima

Lima is a city that isn’t very appealing and attractive to many travelers. Many people use the city as a place to start or end their journey through Peru. I think this is a pity because it’s really worth to explore this mega-city a bit more. Especially when it comes to art and culture. From beautiful Pre-Columbian art to exhibitions by modern artists and photographers. Lima has a large number of interesting museums. And art is a nice way to understand more about a country and culture. These are my favorites museums and art places in Lima. And you should definitely check them out.

The best museums in Lima, Peru!

1. Art by fashion photographer Mario Testino | Museums Lima, Peru

The famous fashion photographer Mario Testino, is contrary to what many people think of Peruvian descent. In Lima you will find the Mario Testino Museum with his most beautiful works. The MATE is located in a beautiful mansion, in the Barranco district. Of course there are well-known photographs of Naomi Campell, Kate Moss, Demi More, and Angelina Jolie. But the most impressing ones are the fashion photographs of traditional Peruvian outfits and costumes.

2. Pre-Columbian art in Museo Larco | Museums Lima, Peru

My favorite museum in Lima about Pre-Columbian cultures and 3000 years of history in Peru is the Rafael Larco Herrera Museum. Everyone knows the Incas, because a lot has been written and told about this civilization. They were the ones, being confronted with the Spaniards and were the last Pre-Columbian culture, before the country became part of the Spanish Kingdom. But there were many other civilizations in Peru (and Latin America) before the Incas. Such as the Mochica, Chimú, Moche, Nazca, Chavin, Huari, Paracas and Lambayeque. They lived in different parts of the country, build beautiful cities and created wonderful objects.

3. Archaeological remains of Huaca Pucllana | Museums Lima, Peru

In the middle of the city, in the Miraflores district, between houses and offices, you will find the archaeological remains of Huaca Pucllana. Huaca Pucllana is an ancient ceremonial center, built by the Lima civilization, around 500 AD. The Lima, were a Pre-Incan civilization, that ruled from 100 to 650 AD. The main pyramid, including the other buildings are made of adobe and clay. Huaca means “holy place” in Quechua (language of the Incas). In 2010, several mummies were found here. The Wari civilization, ruling several years later, used the place to bury their most important people. Archaeologists still find objects on a regular base. Huaca Pucllana is not the most beautiful archaeological site but an interesting first introduction to Peruvian history.

4. Modern art in MAC & Mali | Museums Lima, Peru

If you like (modern) art, you should definitely not skip these museums. The MAC, in the Barranco district, is all about modern art and has often interesting exhibitions. Exhibitions change regularly so it’s good to keep an eye on the website. The Mali also known as the Lima Art Museum, is located in the Palacio de la Exposición. This is a somewhat more general art museum with Pre-Columbian artefacts, colonial art and changing exhibitions by Peruvian and other Latin American artists. Also worth keeping an eye on the exhibitions!

5. Museo Nacional | Museums Lima, Peru

This museum is highly recommended for a general introduction to Pre-Columbian Peru and how it relates to the world’s history. The rooms are divided in different Pre-Columbian cultures with an explanation of their region, the structure and size of their empire, daily life, the buildings they left behind, their art, knowledge and weaving techniques. Of course there’s a lot of information about the Incas and world wonder Machu Picchu as well. It’s a very interesting place for going on a journey through the history of this beautiful country. Especially if it’s your first time in Peru! Take a private guide so you can ask all the questions you might have.

6. Casa de Aliaga

Casa de Aliaga is a 480 year old mansion, the oldest in Lima. Here you can get a glimpse of the life of the former colonial elite. It was founded by the Spanish conqueror Francisco Pizarro, as a favour for General Jerónimo de Aliaga y Ramírez, in the mid-16th century. For five centuries this house was inhabited by 17 generations of the Aliaga family. It’s only possible to enter by guide. Which is actually not bad at all. It is a short tour, where you learn and understand more about the history of the city.

7. Museo de Oro

This museum has the largest and most beautiful gold collection. There are countless golden objects in the shape of a god, animal, bird and face from different centuries of Peruvian history. The Museo de Oro also has an old weapon collection, but the gold collection in particular is worth a visit!


Do you want to explore Lima? Read more in 10 things to do in Lima and experience the city the best way!


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This post is also available in: Nederlands (Dutch)

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