If you are the kind of person that prefers archeology over modern art, the Jade Museum in San Jose deserves your pit stop. Here you will get to know more about the origins of Costa Rica, its history, and its culture.
Experience the story of jade—a metamorphic rock found inside stones and rocks—and its importance in trade. It is impressive to see how the artifacts are carved after the jade is taken from these big stones.
The museum was founded in 1977 by Marco Fidel Castro and was housed in one of the sections of the National Insurance Institute, which was too small to fit the whole collection.
In 2014 a new building was constructed on Plaza de la Democracia. The new building has 5 floors and spreads over 75,000 square feet. The new modern construction was designed to look like a big rough rock of jade.
The museum has six rooms displaying 7000 items, many dating from 500 BC to 300 BC. The exhibits have a dim light that illuminates the objects in an intimate way, which makes the jade stand out.
In the threshold room, you will find elements that illustrate how the societies centered on jade developed. In the jade room, observe the process of how the jade is made, as well as maps showing the trade roads. In the day room, you'll find some exhibits in 3D that demonstrate common activities of these communities such as fishing, agriculture, and hunting.
Jade communities had many spiritual beliefs about the mysteries of the night. These are shown in the night room, where animals such as bats and owls carved in jade illustrate the fascination with underworld mythology. Find also war-related and funerary items, as well as a natural big block of jade before it is carved.
The memory room recreates the music and the technology that was used by these groups and addresses the diversity that existed in gender and sexual roles.
In the collection room, you will find objects such as a globular vessel with a monkey head or a bee-shaped vessel. They belong to the Costa Rican regions Greater Nicoya, Central Region, and Greater Chiriqui.
Keep in mind
The exhibitions are mostly in Spanish. For other languages, rent an audio guide during your visit, and ask for guided visits in English before showing up.
Elsewhere, visit Grano Verde, the in-house coffee shop. They offer a variety of delicious sandwiches and salads, as well as delightful Colombian coffee. Make sure you drop by the gift shop too.