Visiting Museums in Costa Rica

An introduction to the main museums in San José; art, archeology, history, local culture and science...

Costa Rica has a variety of museums dedicated to its history, art, nature and culture. San José houses the majority of these museums, however some smaller museums can be found in other cities and provinces.

There are no specific tourist passes allowing discounts on attractions available in San José, and entrance to most of the city's museums is obtainable directly from the ticket offices of the museums themselves. Prices vary from museum to museum, and Costa Rican residents and citizens may pay lower entry fees than foreign visitors.

Some of the most popular museums situated in and around San José are introduced below.

The National Museum of Costa Rica showcases the history, art, archeology and natural history of the country and has many Pre-Columbian artifacts on display.

  • National Museum of Costa Rica (Museo Nacional de Costa Rica)
    At: Calle 17, Avenidas 2 & Central, San José
    Tel: 2257 1439
    Fax: 2233 7427
    Open: Tuesday to Saturday from 08:30-16:30, and Sundays from 09:00-16:30

The Museum of Costa Rican Art, which is housed in Costa Rica's former airport, displays a wide selection of exhibits and art collections by national artists. Highlights of the museum include its sculpture garden and the "gold room", which used to be the airport's VIP room. The room's walls are bronze colored and recount the history of Costa Rica prior to 1940.

  • Museum of Costa Rican Art (Museo de Arte Costarricense) (in Spanish)
    At: Parque La Sabana, San José
    Tel: 2256 1281
    Open: Tuesday to Sunday from 09:00-16:00

The Pre-Colombian Gold Museum holds one of the largest indigenous gold artifact collections. In addition, a large artistic and archeological collection of ancient Costa Rican indigenous tribal exhibits is on display. One of the highlights of the museum is a life-size warrior (El Guerrero), decorated with amulets, rings and other gold ornaments.

  • Pre-Colombian Gold Museum (Museo del Oro Precolombino)
    At: Calle 5, Avenidas 2 & Central, San José
    Tel: 2243 4202
    Fax: 2243 4220
    Open: Monday to Saturday from 10:00-16:30

Housed within the Pre-Colombian Gold Museum is the National Coin Museum, which has exhibits of current and former currencies from Costa Rica and countries all over the world.

  • National Coin Museum (Museo de Numismática)
    At: Calle 5, Avenidas 2 & Central, San José
    Tel: 2243 4202
    Fax: 2243 4220
    Open: Monday to Friday from 08:00-16:45

The Jade Museum features exhibits of jade artifacts, including the world's largest collection of Pre-Columbian jade. Ceramics and indigenous grinding tables (metates) are also displayed.

  • Jade Museum (Museo del Jade Fidel Tristán Castro) (in Spanish)
    At: Calles 9-11, Avenida 7, San José
    Tel: 2287 6034 / 2223 5800
    Fax: 2255 3456
    Open: Monday to Friday from 08:00-15:30 and Saturday from 09:00-13:00

The Juan Santamaría Museum houses artifacts, documents and art relating to Costa Rica's national hero, Juan Santamaría.

  • Juan Santamaría Museum (Museo Juan Santamaría)
    At: Calles Central-2, Avenida 3, Alajuela
    Tel: 2442 4775
    Open: Tuesday to Sunday, from 10:00-18:00

The La Salle Natural Science Museum holds a vast collection of native and exotic flora and fauna, a dinosaur exhibit, and archeological and mineralogical exhibits.

  • La Salle Natural Sciences Museum (Museo de Ciencias Naturales La Salle) (in Spanish)
    At: Parque La Sabana (Southwest side), San José
    Tel: 2232 1306
    Open: Monday to Saturday from 07:30-16:00, Sunday from 09:00-17:00

The Costa Rica Children's Museum features hands-on interactive and educational exhibits on subjects such as technology, science and culture. It is situated within the Costa Rica Science and Cultural Center (Centro Costariccense de Ciencias y Cultura)

  • Costa Rica Children's Museum (Museo de los Niños Costa Rica)
    At: Calle 4, Avenida 9, San José
    Tel: 2258 4929
    Open: Tuesday to Friday from 08:00-16:30 and weekends from 09:30-17:00

San José's Museum of Contemporary Art and Design houses a permanent collection of Central American art and design and features paintings, sculptures, etchings, photography and video art. Regular temporary exhibitions take place in addition to activities such as workshops, guided tours, conferences and international film screenings. The museum is housed in the former National Liquor Factory, which is also home to the National Center of Culture (CENAC).

  • Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo
    At: Antigua Fábrica Nacional de Licores, Avenida 3, Calle 15, San José
    Tel: 2257 7202 / 2257 9370 
    Fax: 2257 8702