The Museum of Pre-Columbian Art (MAP Cusco) may be the Imperial City’s best museum due to the fact that its permanent exhibition offers 3,000 years of historical processes of pre-Columbian cultures from an artistic perspective.
MAP Cusco is the curatorial vision of renowned plastic artist Fernando de Szyszlo and art historian Cecilia Bákula, thanks to a joint effort between the BBVA Foundation and the Larco Museum.
A Short History
Fifteen years ago when the museum was inaugurated within the structure of a colonial mansion, MAP Cusco’s proposal was a pioneer in offering an approach to pre-Columbian art history that, for the first time, moved away from the purely archaeological narratives.
“In all my life, I have not seen objects that disturb my heart in such a way …” wrote famous German Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer, quoted on the wall of the museum along with others. Such details emphasize the museum’s intention to enhance the value of pre-Columbian art and, in turn, insert it into the greater narrative of art history.
For years, national and international museums have focused purely on anthropological, ethnological or archaeological notions in their presentation of the material expression of indigenous cultures, without highlighting artistic processes. In contrast, MAP’s selection of pieces, along with their respective layout, present each of the pieces as protagonists that, for the most part, are shown individually, which allows us to more profoundly appreciate their details.
MAP Cusco was re-launched to offer visitors a new introductory room as well as audio-guide interpretation services (available in Spanish, English and French) to interpret 10 rooms, guided by voices of recognized Peruvian actors. The curatorship differentiates these rooms by chronological criteria and materials, quite similar to the Larco Museum. The rooms are divided as follows: “The Origins (1250 A.C. – 1 D.C.),” which includes works of the main communities with their unique identities; “Wood,” as an element of the ancestors; “Shells,” as representative of mythical stories; “Gold,” as the connection between different worlds; “Silver,” as a metal and feminine element of nature; “South,” exploring the creative cultures of Nasca and Paracas; “Center,” addressing the Huari culture; “Before the Incas,” dealing with the coastal states Chancay and Chimú; and finally, “The Incas,” as the last pre-Columbian cultural stage, and although of short duration, they represented the maximum imperial expansion.
MAP Cusco’s home, the Cabrera House, is located just three minutes from the Plaza de Armas in Plazoleta Nazarenas, a quaint square that is also home to Monasterio Hotel, Palacio Nazarenas Hotel, Inkaterra Hotel and Fallen Angel Hotel and Bar. Among MAP Cusco’s services is its restaurant MAP Café, located in the central courtyard within a glass structure, with an attractive gastronomic proposal based on the use of local ingredients. Definitely not to be missed!