A Guide to Museums in San José, Costa Rica

If you’re staying in the capital, there are several well-done, informative museums across the city. Here is a sample of the city’s educational offerings.

Pre-Columbian Gold Museum

The Pre-Columbian Gold Museum has an extraordinary collection of gold objects that reflect the world view, social structure, and metallurgy of Costa Rican Pre-Columbian people. It dates from 300 to 1500 B.C. and shows the use, function, and technology of the pieces as well as their connection to nature and the daily life of these groups. Visit The Shop,  where you will find a variety of products such as jewelry inspired by Pre-Columbian art, hand-made crafts and much more.

Location: Below the Plaza de la Cultura, in downtown San José.

Museum Hours: Monday to Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Entrance Fee: International visitors $9 and international students with ID $5.
Tel: +(506) 2243-4202

Jade Museum Jade Museum san jose costa rica

The world’s most comprehensive collection of Pre-Columbian jade recently underwent a renovation, highlighting the stone’s spectacular shades of green. Pieces date from 500 BC to 800 AD, and offer a long and colorful look into the region’s past.

Location: A brand-new building on Avenida Central and Calle 13, just west of the Plaza de la Democracia.

Museum Hours: Open daily from 10am to 5pm.

Entrance fee: Admission is $5 for Ticos and residents; tourists pay $15. Tel. 2521-6610.

National Museum

national_museum_san_joseThis excellent museum shows exhibits on Pre-Columbian art, indigenous culture in Costa Rica, and colonial life in addition to a focus on Costa Rican history, archeology, geology, and historical document. Located in the old Fort, one can see the bullet holes from the 1949 attempted revolution (El Cardonazo) still marking the walls. The view of San José from the observation deck is excellent, and the shady plaza is pleasant.

Museum Hours: 8:30AM to 4:30PM, Tuesday through Saturday, and Sunday 9AM to 4PM.

Entrance Fee: $9 for foreigners, $4 for foreign students with ID, and 1,500 colones for Costa Rican nationals. Telephone is 2257-1433.

Children’s Museum

The Children’s Museum, or Museo de los Niños, is the old Central Penitentiary of San José, where it housed Costa Rica’s worst criminals for 80 years. That all changed in 1994, when the old castle-like structure was transformed into a bright, interactive space for kids with an emphasis on play, education, science, and culture. Adults and kids alike will enjoy this trip into Costa Rica’s past, present, and future. The National Gallery is also on the grounds.

Museum Hours: Tuesday – Friday, 8:00 am – 4:30 pm; weekends 9:30 am – 5:00 pm. The museum is closed on Mondays.

Entrance Fee: Children are 2,000 colones ($3.65). Adults over 15 pay 2,200 ($4). Telephone: 2258-4929.