Guatemala City Museums
(Guatemala City, Central Highlands, Guatemala)
Guatemala City easily has the top museums and cultural attractions in the country. Every facet of Guatemalan life is covered, including history, archaeology, ethnology and natural history. You won't have to go far either, as many museums are based right in downtown, as well as out at the university.
The National Museum of Ethnology and Archaeology is one of the best and will be of particular interest for those looking to learn about the Mayans, holding the most comprehensive collection of archaeological artefacts in the country, and possibly the world. The Popol Vuh and Ixchel museums, both on the campus of the Universidad Francisco Marroquin, also cover Maya, with the latter holding an extraordinary collection of clothing and textiles from the diverse indigenous communities inhabiting all regions of Guatemala
National Museum of Ethnology and Archaeology (Museo Nacional de Etnologia y Arqueologia)
Address: Calle 6a / Avenida 7a, Salon 5, Finca La Aurora, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala, GT
Tel: +502 2475 4399
The National Museum of Ethnology and Archaeology is a leading cultural attraction in Guatemala. It displays a collection of important Mayan archaeological artefacts and covers lots of ground with regards to the country's history. Highlights include the exhibit on Mayan technology and clothing, while there are also impressive displays of jade, costumes, masks and native textiles. For those interested in Mayan history and culture, this is the definitive reference point. Look out for the giant stone sculptures originating from the ancient sites of Piedras Negras, Tikal and Uaxactun.
Open hours: Tuesday to Friday - 09:00 to 16:00, Saturday - 09:00 to 12:00, 13:30 to 16:00
Popol Vuh Museum (Museo Popol Vuh)
Address: Universidad Francisco Marroquin, Calle 6, Zona 10, Guatemala City, Guatemala, GT
Tel: +502 2361 2301
The Museo Popol Vuh is a modern museum residing within the campus of the Francisco Marroquin University (Universidad Francisco Marroquin). It also focuses on the archaeology of the nearby Mayan world, more so than the actual narratives of Popol Vuh. The museum also has a decent collection of colonial items, pre-Hispanic sculptures, burial urns and incense burners, with exhibits being clearly labelled in both English and Spanish. It is worth noting that there are extra charges for picture and video taking.
Open hours: Monday to Friday - 09:00 to 17:00, Saturday - 09:00 to 13:00
Admission: charge, discount available for students and children
Ixchel Museum of Indigenous Textiles and Clothing (Museo Ixchel del Traje Indigena)
Address: Universidad Francisco Marroquin, Calle 6a, Zona 10, Guatemala City, Guatemala, GT
Tel: +502 2331 3739
The Museo Ixchel is another museum of interest located on the Universidad Francisco Marroquin campus. Named after the 16th-century deity from Mayan times - Ixchel, who was the goddess of medicine, the moon, women, midwifery and textiles, it displays traditional costumes and explains the weaving techniques that were used to produce them. Both modern and historic styles are here, featuring strong colours, intricate weaving techniques and embroidery. One of the best things about this attraction is that you can purchase high quality, original, genuine clothing of the Ixchel at the shop onsite, together with ceramics, textiles books and jewellery, including fine silver filigree work. There is also an area designed to appeal to children, as well as a cafe, a library and regular guided tours.
Open hours: Monday to Friday - 08:00 to 18:00, Saturday - 09:00 to 13:00
Admission: charge, discount for students
Children's Museum (Museo de los Ninos)
Address: Calle 5a 10-00, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala, GT
Tel: +502 2475 5076
The Children's Museum is a must for those with kids on holiday in Guatemala City. It has many natty hands-on exhibits, including a centrifugal force simulator and a fun bicycle display that involves a cycling skeleton. There is also a large map of the country in the form of a jigsaw, an earthquake simulation and lots of ball games. The Museo de los Ninos is conveniently close to the Aurora Zoo, meaning that both can be easily visited on the same outing.
Open hours: Tuesday to Friday - 08:00 to 12:00, 13:00 to 18:00, Saturday and Sunday - 10:00 to 13:30, 14:30 to 18:00
Address: Avenida 8a 14-12, Zona 1, Guatemala City, Guatemala, GT
This rich cultural centre is to be found within an attractive late 17th-century house and is brimming with items of interest, since the previous owners were avid collectors of ornaments, art works, antique furnishings and old French neo-Rococo furniture. The rather random exhibits include some nice Chinese artefacts, colourful ceramics and Art Deco pieces. With its recreations of period rooms, the Casa MIMA offers an insight into how a well-off middle-class Guatemalan family would have lived. The patio overlooking the garden provides al fresco seating for the adjacent onsite cafe.
Open hours: Monday to Friday - 09:00 to 12:30, 14:00 to 18:00
Museum of Invisible Music (Museo de Musicos Invisibles)
Address: Calle 13a 7-30, Zona 1, Guatemala City, Guatemala, GT
The whole idea behind the Museo de Musicos Invisibles is to showcase instruments which are able to play music all on their own - hence the 'Invisible Music' name. There are many interesting automated music players here, with the oldest dating back to the 1840s and including paper-roll driven barrel organs (used by 'organ grinders'), a piano that plays all by itself and air-powered orchestra devices, as well as some old-fashioned gramophones and a well-preserved juke box. If you have the time to properly explore, then you can easily while away a couple of hours here, or if you are in a hurry, perhaps allow just an hour.
Open hours: Monday to Saturday - 09:00 to 18:00
Railway Museum (Museo de Ferrocarril)
Address: Avenida 9a 18-03, Zona 1, Guatemala City, Guatemala, GT
An especially appealing museum with a strong railroad theme, the Museo de Ferrocarril opened in 2004 and clearly documents the history, trials and tribulations of the country's railway network. Six large locomotives are on display here, along with diagrams, documentation, railway related relics, some old passenger carriages and the obligatory model railway. One of the passenger carriages now functions as a small restaurant serving up simple snacks.
Open hours: daily - 09:00 to 12:30, 14:00 to 16:00
National History Museum (Museo Nacional de Historia)
Address: Calle 9a 9-70, Zona 1, Guatemala City, Guatemala, GT
Tel: +502 2253 6149
Containing an eclectic assortment of exhibits, the Museo Nacional de Historia remembers the bygone days of the city. A tour of the museum begins on the first floor, where displays are organised in a chronological order, starting with the discovery of America and leading on to the second floor, where information about politics and the founding of the governments is shown. In the basement is a large collection of photographs and portraits of past presidents.
Open hours: Monday to Friday - 09:00 to 17:30
Natural History Museum (Museo de Historia Natural)
Address: Universidad de San Carlos, Calle Mariscal Cruz 1-56, Zona 10, Guatemala City, Guatemala, GT
Part of the Universidad de San Carlos attractions, admission to the Museo de Historia Natural also includes entry to the Jardin Botanico
. The Natural History Museum first opened its doors to the paying public in the middle of the 20th century and the quality of its displays has improved enormously. Visitors will be able to enjoy a large number of stuffed mammals and birds, mineral and geological displays, paleontology exhibits and even a butterfly house.
Open hours: Monday to Friday - 08:00 to 15:30, Saturday - 08:00 to 12:00
Museo Numismático de Guatemala (Guatemalan Numismatic Museum)
Address: 7a. Avenida 22-01, Zona 1, Guatemala City, Guatemala, GT
Tel: +502 2429 6000
The Museo Numismático records the financial history of the country by exhibiting collections of items that were once used as currency, such as exotic bird feathers and shells. Also of interest to visitors is an extensive collection of historic metallic coins and paper notes.
Open hours: Monday to Friday - 09:00 to 17:00