Image by DEA / G. DAGLI ORTI De Agostini
Located in the circular, glass-plated, landmark building of the Casa de la Cultura is one of the country’s largest collections of Ecuadorian art, with magnificent works of pre-Hispanic and colonial religious art. At research time the museum had been closed for two years after plans for a state-of-the-art refurbishment stalled somewhere in the depths of government bureaucracy.
The museum collection includes more than 1000 ceramic pieces dating from 12,000 BC to AD 1534, a magnificent radiating, golden sun mask, and masterful works from the Quito School. Archaeological exhibits include arrowheads from Ecuador’s first nomadic hunter-gatherers, the Valdivia culture (Ecuador’s first settled agriculturalists) and the Inca. Highlights are ‘whistle bottles’ from the Chorrera culture, figures showing skull deformation practiced by the Machalilla culture, wild serpent bowls from the Jama-Coaque, ceramic representations of tzantzas (shrunken heads), ‘coin axes’ from the Milagro-Quevedo culture and the famous ceremonial stone chairs of the Manteños.