Last month, I had the chance to visit a hidden gem among Madrid’s better-known museums: Museo de América (English: Museum of the Americas). Filled with thousands of pre-Columbian artifacts, treasures, and works of art, the Museo de América explores the languages, religions, and cultures of the Americas — from the Arctic Circle to Tierra del Fuego — as well as their interactions with imperial Spain.
Nestled deep in the Andes, the former Inca capital city of Cusco stands at 11,152 feet (3,399 m) above sea level. It is a destination for tourists from around the world who ascend the treacherous mountainside roads to make their pilgrimage to one of the modern wonders of the world, Machu Picchu. While it is best known for its proximity to the ancient city, there is a wealth of other sites in and around Cusco that still have intact remnants of the region’s Inca past.
The Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art (Español: Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino) in Santiago, Chile is a jewel among the world’s museums and a highlight of any trip to the country. Widely regarded as one of the best museums in Latin America, this unique establishment houses an impressive collection of artifacts from ancient Central and South America, which underscores the rich cultural and artistic diversity of the Pre-Columbian Americas. In this exclusive English language interview, James Blake Wiener, Communications Director at Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE), takes a tour of the museum with Dr. José Berenguer Rodríguez, Curator at the Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, who explains the finer points of the museum’s history, organization, and vast collection.
Despite the popular appeal of the legendary city of El Dorado, our collective understanding of ancient Colombia’s history remains largely obscured by the advanced civilizations of Mesoamerica and the Andes. A new exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in Los Angeles, CA, however, reveals that ancient Colombia’s past is far older and more diverse than is apparent in documents written by Spanish conquistadores. Drawing from LACMA’s impressive collection of ancient Colombian artifacts, Ancient Colombia: A Journey through the Cauca Valley offers fresh perspectives on the material culture and indigenous history of Colombia’s native peoples. In this interview, James Blake Wiener of Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE) speaks to Dr. Julia Burtenshaw-Zumstein, a Post-Doctoral Curatorial Fellow in LACMA’s Art of the Ancient Americas department, about this exciting new exhibition, which juxtaposes colonial Spanish documents with recent archaeological finds.
Peru is one of six “cradles of civilization,” from which a series of advanced societies emerged. Characterized by remarkable artistic expression and technological innovation, successive Andean cultures thrived among the peaks and valleys of the Andes until the armies of Francisco Pizarro vanquished the Inca in 1532 CE. Nevertheless, primordial, symbolic imagery–mythical, ritualistic, and spiritual–continued to shape the artistic spectrum, precipitating a wave of nationalist affirmation in modern times. Peru: Kingdoms of the Sun and the Moon provides a retrospective presentation of Peru’s history through an exploration of identity, spirituality, and indigenous collective memory as reflected in art. In this world exclusive interview, James Blake Wiener of the Ancient History Encyclopedia speaks to Ms. Nathalie Bondil, Director and Chief Curator of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal), with regard to this exhibition’s unique focus and meticulous organization.
This fall the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at the University of British Columbia (UBC), in Vancouver, Canada, dazzles visitors with the sparkle and brilliance of Peruvian silver. Luminescence: The Silver of Perú, on display until December 16, 2012, explores the impact of this precious metal across the centuries, underscoring its impact on art, culture, and religion. While widely known as a source of gold for Spanish conquistadores, Peru has long been the site of intensive silver mining and production for millennia. Today, Peru remains the world’s largest producer of silver. In this interview, James Blake Wiener of the Ancient History Encyclopedia speaks with Dr. Anthony Shelton, Director and Curator of the Museum of Anthropology, about silver’s enduring presence in Peruvian culture in addition to the challenges of creating exhibition that encompasses the artistic spectrum.