Visit the Numismatic Museum

Pre Columbian Gold Figure at the Gold Museum
Pre Columbian Gold Figure at the Gold Museum

The Plaza de Cultura in San Jose is a popular destination for tourists to visit, as it is a major hub of the city where people gather for festivals, concerts, and celebration of culture. While there are many exciting heritage sites to visit in this popular part of Costa Rica, few are as incredible as the Numismatic Museum. This museum is one of two well-known museums housed within the Central Bank Museums of Costa Rica, and showcases a number of interesting and beautiful items related to vital components of Costa Rican culture.

There are numerous exhibitions to see at this museum, but arguably the most popular is the exhibit on the history of Costa Rica’s currency. Featured here are exquisite examples of Costa Rican currency stretching back to the year 1502. This exhibit also features an explanation about each type of currency and how each one was used throughout Costa Rica. With thousands of artifacts, including coins used around the Conquest and Colonial periods, visitors will find both beauty, interest and wonder in the collections found in the Numismatic Museum. You will also find silver reals, onzas, escudos, gold, silver centavos, pesos, gold escudos and much more.

History of the Numismatic Museum

First opened in 1990 by the notable Jaime Solera Bennett, perhaps best known for his role as president of Costa Rica’s Central Bank as well as his overall contributions to the country’s business sector, the Numismatic Museum has become one of the top tourist stops in San Jose. Bennett’s strong passion for numismatics (the collection and study of currency) no doubt contributed to his drive to create an interactive and educational experience, filled with important artifacts that paint a new view of the history of Costa Rica. Bennett collected numerous types of currency throughout this life, and his family donated his private collection to the Numismatic Museum in 1997.

Things to See

Visitors can expect to see a wide variety of items in the museum’s collection of 5,000 objects. Coins, bills, photographs, precious metals and more help to connect the dots and show the evolution of Costa Rican currency over the last half-century. Some featured displays include items that were used during the exciting time of the conquistadores, as well as important elements from the country’s earlier bartering system. For example, guests can view tokens of early trade such as banana and coffee coins, which are two of the country’s biggest exports.

The museum does a lot more than simply display all the various coins and notes. It is also an educational experience, and guests can learn about the people whose images are featured on Costa Rican currency. Some of the important historical figures you can learn about at this museum include Queen Victoria I, Carmen Lyra, Emma Gamboa, Amada Zeledón and Esperanza Castro.

Museum Store

While there is plenty to see in the Numismatic Museum, you should also make sure to pay a visit to the Central Bank Museums store. This is an excellent shop for finding unique items, including indigenous jewelry and handcrafted items produced by native Costa Ricans as well as souvenir reproductions of gold pieces from the pre-Columbian era. Tourists who want to make sure they bring a fantastic memory home with them should absolutely visit the store and select a unique item that will get houseguests talking.

The Numismatic Museum in San Jose houses many items that are critical to preserving Costa Rican culture, and people of all ages will enjoy the interactive experience provided there. Take a guided tour of all the exhibits so that you can soak up everything the building has to offer.