Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Museo Larco: The Collection

Rafael Larco Herrera was born into a wealthy plantation family. He studied agriculture at Cornell University, but returned to Peru to find his father had acquired a trove of apparently Incan ceramics. Then another trove. It was the Golden Age of Grave Robbing in South America. Anyhow, the artifacts interested Rafael greatly and, at length, he proposed the family create a museum to house them in Lima. The family agreed, appointed Rafael director (1926), and then things got interesting. Examining and classifying the artifacts--more troves were arriving--Rafael noticed they were not all cut from the same cloth. Subject matter, technique, material, shape, use, origin, all varied greatly. Rafael turned archaeologist/art historian at this point and took to the field. What he found convinced him that the Incas had been preceded by several, if not many, advanced cultures in Peru and its neighbors. Larco's classification scheme for these various cultures, I understand, is still in use. Museums are more often thought of as mere repositories of culture and knowledge. The Larco has it the other way around, too, a source of discovery.
Our founder

I won't attempt to describe all these things, which culture/place
they are from, etc. 

Paleo, obviously

Ceramics implements

Definitely Incan

Quipus, as close as they got to writing

Textile implements


Painting attempting to show how Charles V
was the legitimate king of the Incas

Charming ways to kill people: #1, throw them off boats

#2, throw them off mountains

#3, slit their throats

Throat-slitting implements

Pre-Incan Conehead

Trepanation implements: never, ever tell the shaman you have
a headache (look it up)

Gold, lots of gold that didn't make it to Seville, Toledo, Madrid

Gold was pretty much for ornamentation of
the rich and famous; symbol of authority...
gold=sun=Inca king=son of sun...

So you think you're done; but then you notice you've covered
just half the building; the other half 
is open too and consists
of room after room 
of items not in the display collection...
thousands, hundred of thousands, all open to view

Plus, the Larco has a satellite facility, the
Pre-Columbian Museum, in Cusco

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

Wow! Love those back rooms--reminds me of the V&A in London.