lima museums

Pay a visit to MATE, one of Lima’s most interesting museums. (Photo: Eric Mohl)


Craving Culture in Lima? Head to the City’s Top Museums

You’d be forgiven if all you wanted to do during your visit to Lima was eat. After all, the city has become a culinary capital of Latin America, with a number of its restaurants achieving world acclaim.

But if you can back away from the table for a bit, these five Lima museums are worth a visit, offering compelling collections of photography, pre-Columbian pottery, ancient textiles, and even classic cars.

Museo MATE

Museo MATE is a petite space in the Barranco neighborhood, and it’s devoted to the work of Peruvian fashion and portrait photographer Mario Testino.

A handful of rooms feature enormous prints of his images taken of his various famous subjects (among them, Princess Diana and supermodels Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss) as well as striking images of some of Peru’s indigenous groups in their traditional dress, shot as high fashion in the high Andes.

One room is devoted to rotating exhibitions and there’s a relaxing coffee shop and a very chic store on-site.

Museo de Arte Lima

lima museums
MALI has a little bit of everything. (Photo: Eric Mohl)

Museo de Arte Lima, in the city’s downtown area, has an impressive pre-Columbian collection, religious art from the Spanish colonial period, and work from modern Peruvian artists.

Located in the Palace of Expositions building, which was competed in 1972, the MALI (as locals call it) is the best museum in Lima for those who want to see a little bit of everything in one architecturally important space.

Amano Pre-Columbian Textile Museum

lima museums
Discover the allure of Lima’s textile history. (Photo: Eric Mohl)

Even if you’re not crazy for textiles, a visit to the Amano Pre-Columbian Textile Museum in Lima’s Miraflores neighborhood will impress. What started as a personal passion for textiles has blossomed into one of the most comprehensive and well-presented overviews of Peru’s rich textile history.

More than 500 pieces are on display in a way that allows visitor to watch the evolution of Peruvian textiles through the ages. Excellent restoration work and world-class displays do justice to the intricate designs and techniques visible in the textiles in this collection.

Exhibits showing raw materials and dying techniques add to an overall understanding of Peruvian textile arts. Guided tours are available for those who want to learn even more.

Larco Museum

lima museums
Pottery and ceramics from the pre-Columbian period are among the strengths of the Larco Museum’s collection. (Photo: Eric Mohl)

Larco Museum, in the city’s Pueblo Libre neighborhood, is that perfect combination of lovely setting and epic collection. Founded in 1926, the museum now has more than 45,000 pieces of pre-Columbian artifacts from ancient Peruvian cultures.

Select pieces from the collection, including pottery, paintings, pre-Incan jewelry, masks, mummies, erotic art, and more, are displayed in a restored Viceroyalty mansion surrounded by gardens.

Thousands more exquisite pieces are displayed on metal shelves in a jam-packed storage room that’s open to the public. There’s also a lovely indoor/outdoor café on site and an excellent gift shop.

Nicolini Auto Museum

lima museums
The Nicolini Auto Museum is unique in Latin America, featuring some models that no longer exist elsewhere. (Photo: Eric Mohl)

If you’re into classic cars, it’s worth the short trip outside of Lima to the Nicolini Auto Museum, where Jorge Nicolini has purchased, restored, and exhibited more than 100 classic cars dating back to 1901.

There’s no other collection quite like it in South America and some models, like a 1951 Wanderer, are believed to be the only examples left in the world.