Ancestral Treasures of Peru

The exhibition “Ancient Treasures of Peru” consists of 162 pieces in ceramics, copper, gold, silver, and textiles, it is a journey through the ancient Andean civilizations up to the crystallization of the Inca Empire.

Recognized as heritage by the Ministry of Culture of Peru, the rare collection of objects, that were found in various archaeological expeditions, belongs to the Mujica Gallo Foundation and is part of the catalog of the Museo Oro del Perú y Armas del Mundo. Curated by Patricia Arana and Rodolfo de Athayde, the exhibition was divided into five thematic blocks – Timeline, Mining, Deities and Rituals, Ceramics and Textiles, and Colonization – and presented to the public one of the most important collections in the history of civilizations.

This exhibition stimulates an important debate about Latin American memory and its colonization processes. It offers an opportunity not only to appreciate the complexity of techniques and knowledge of the civilizations that inhabited the region but also to recognize the erasure of these people’s legacy due to the actions of colonizers.

The 162 pieces were produced between 900 B.C. and 1600 A.D. Cultural traces of the Andean peoples are revealed in utensils such as depilators, bags, plumes, funerary masks, and crowns made of gold. There are also sections dedicated to ceramics and textile objects, such as jackets, caps, and shoes. The catalog also includes five Tumis, a type of ornamental knife used during animal sacrifice ceremonies and, in exceptional cases, human sacrifices.

“The development of all these cultures reveals a remarkable historical accumulation of knowledge and mastery in various techniques and crafts, reflected in the elegance and complexity of the pieces that are presented. The skill in mining and crafting objects made of gold, silver, copper, and other minerals reaches an exceptional level of sophistication, even in the oldest civilizations,” explain the curators Rodolfo and Patricia.

It is also noteworthy that these societies did not use money as an instrument of economic exchange, in contrast to the Europeans’ valuation of gold and silver accumulated as capital reserves.

Each thematic block of the exhibition gathers a series of representations and informational panels that allow visitors to have a deeper understanding of the contents of the exhibition.

The pieces in the exhibition are rare in many ways. Almost everything that existed in Inca territory was destroyed, stolen, or melted down. Later, it was also looted by robbers of archaeological monuments, known in Peru as huaqueiros, who rummaged through tombs and ceremonial centers in search of pieces to be sold illegally to collectors.

The exhibition also brings interventions from contemporary artists, like the Peruvians Iván Sikic and Alexandra Grau, and the Brazilian Bete Esteves.

Iván Sikic’s work, “Saqueo” (Pillage), references different moments in history where the compulsive extraction of gold caused significant cultural or ecological impacts. This installation questions the colonial legacy and the effects of illegal gold mining up to the present days. Alexandra Grau is responsible for the enormous recreations of colorful quipus, which allude to the instruments of records and accounting of the Incas. The different knots made in the cords create a language that preserves the history of this culture. The video art by Bete Esteves and Beth Franco uses images of mining techniques and metalworking to create a connection with the violent methods narrated by the protagonists. These contemporary art insertions offer a perspective that broadens the interpretation of the exhibition’s collection, providing a critical and reflective view on the representativeness of the pieces.

Virtual tour of the exhibition

Datasheet

Production

  • Arte A Produções


Curatorship
  • Patrícia Arana
  • Rodolfo de Athayde


General Coordination
  • Rodolfo de Athayde
  • Ania Rodriguez


Museum
  • Oro del Perú y Armas del Mundo


Project Management
  • Karen Ituarte


Art Direction and Design
  • Complexo B
  • Bete Esteves
  • Studio Baleia
  • Bruno Pugens


Exhibition layout and lighting
  • Adriana Milhomem


Production Assistant
  • Daniele Oliveira


Content Advisor and Research
  • Ana Raquel Portugal


Public Relations
  • Agência Galo