Museums in Arequipa

While in Arequipa we have visited several museums, the most famous being the museum holding “Juanita, the Ice Princess”. She is an over-500-year-old mummy of a 14 year old girl sacrificed by the Incas. She had been buried in the cold on the top of Mount Ampato. Her grave contained many other artifacts, some of which were also displayed in the museum. Since finding her, three other sacrificed children have also been recovered on the mountain. Small figurines, pottery, and wonderfully preserved clothing was recovered with the mummies. The clothes that they were wrapped in, as well as the elaborately woven tunics that they wore, were very well preserved in the cold dry mountain top.

Two other museums that we visited were in the cloisters of monasteries. The one we visited at San Francisco, a Jesuit monastery, held religious objects from Arequipa’s early years. It was made more interesting as we had a very interesting guide guiding us thru it. The other museum was a surprise!! We had walked across the river (Rio Chili) that runs thru the center of the city, to check out a church (La Recoleta) with red towers that we could see from streets near the central plaza. When we arrived we discovered that the cloisters held a wonderful museum. There were four cloister and around each of the pretty green patios were rooms full of treasures. Two of the rooms contained pre-Columbian artifacts. Along with the usual pottery, were cloth fragments (quite well preserved) ropes and some mummies recovered from the area around Nazca. There were also several rooms of religious artifacts and maps of the missionary’s travels. Two rooms were devoted to the Amazon region. One discussed the people while the other contained stuffed animals and birds collected in the jungle as well as a display of insects and a pretty display of butterflies. I expect that most of the artifacts were collected by the padres as they traveled thru Peru converting the Indians to Christianity.