Popayan’s Museum of Religious Art houses an impressive collection of religious works and has been an integral part of the city’s cultural heritage and famous Holy Week celebrations since its opening in 1979.
Situated in an 18th century colonial building a mere two blocks from Popayan’s central square, the museum brings together more than 500 religious artworks from the 16th to 20th century, including paintings, jewelry, furniture, silverware, ornaments and more. Most of the works were imported from Europe or from present-day Ecuador.
“Tourists should visit the museum because they will find an exceptional art, a rare art, an art that draws on its history because it delves into the history of Popayan,” said museum director Carmen Eliza Fernandez.
“They will find pieces that have been in the best museums in the world,” she added.
Although the museum’s beautiful works can be enjoyed by all people whether Christian or not, the museum makes its evangelical intent clear.
The Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church explained its purpose is “the dual and overlapping dynamics of human development and Christian evangelism.”
“Faith tends to express itself in artistic forms and historical records that have an intrinsic evangelizing power and cultural value,” said the Commission in a press release. They are also “guarantors of the links with the past and are testimony to its vitality.”
The museum also provides educational workshops and participates in cultural projects to further its evangelical goal. It gives free workshops in language, history and art to more than 2,000 students a year.
The Museum of Religious Art is open year-round but visitors during Holy Week have the option to tour the vault which showcases the museum’s precious “Objects of the Boveda,” which include gold plated crowns, urns, goblets, platters and jewelry.
- Price: 5,000 pesos
- Address: Calle 4 # 4-56
- Hours: Monday-Friday: 9:00am-12:00pm and 2:00pm-6:00pm, Saturday 9:00am-2:00pm
- Tours available in Spanish with English translators