Popayan’s Museum of Natural History is not the most visually impressive attraction in the city, but it is a must-see for nature and animal lovers who want to learn about Colombia’s immense animal diversity.
With more than 3,300 animal and fossil specimens, the collection is one of the largest in western Colombia. Nearly all of the specimens are native to the department of Cauca or Colombia’s Pacific coastal region and many of them are in danger of extinction.
Museum Director Maria del Pilar Rivas has worked to make the museum an important center of environmental education in the region and hopes to greatly expand the education program. “We would like to have space to have meetings and conferences on general themes and on different specific themes concerning nature and the preservation of animals,” Rivas told Colombia Reports.
The museum is situated in an unimpressive building a few blocks northeast of the city center but what it lacks in grandeur it makes up for with an enthusiastic University of Cauca student staff.
Christian Torro, an engineering student and translator at the museum, could hardly contain his excitement when speaking with Colombia Reports. “Here we are all animal lovers. We just love animals and we can’t wait to share our knowledge with visitors,” he said.
During the year the museum is mostly visited by local primary and secondary schools but there is a spike in visitors during the Holy Week due to a flood of tourists in the city. “The Holy Week is amazing because Popayan is quiet except during the Holy Week and everyone wants to come here to see the museum,” said Torro.
- Cost: 3,000 Colombian pesos per person ($1.60)
- Open Monday to Sunday: 9:00am-12:00pm and 2:00pm-5:00pm
- Free tours in Spanish with English translators available