Lonely Planet review
An 18th-century viceroy’s mansion houses this museum, which has one of the largest, best-presented displays of ceramics in Lima. Founded by Rafael Larco Hoyle in 1926, a dedicated collector and cataloguer of all things pre-Columbian, the collection is said to include more than 50,000 pots (thousands are housed in glass storerooms, which visitors can also see). The museum showcases ceramic works from the Cupisnique, Chimú, Chancay, Nazca and Inca cultures, but the highlight is the sublime Moche portrait vessels, presented in simple, dramatically lit cases. Equally astonishing is a Wari weaving in one of the rear galleries that contains 398 threads to the linear inch – a record. There’s also gold and jewels. Many visitors are lured here by a separately housed collection of pre-Columbian erotica illustrating all manner of sexual activity with comical explicitness. Don’t miss the vitrine that depicts sexually transmitted diseases.
The highly recommended on-site Café del Museo faces a private garden draped in bougainvillea and is a perfect spot for ceviche.
Catch a bus from Av Arequipa in Miraflores marked ‘Todo Bolívar’ to Bolívar’s 15th block. A painted blue line on the sidewalk links this building to the Museo Nacional de Antropología, Arqueología e Historía del Perú, about a 15-minute walk away.