Nearshore Americas

In Barranquilla, Get to Know the Authentic El Caribe

More than a museum, the Museo del Caribe in Barranquilla’s Parque del Cultural Caribe offers an exciting immersion into the region’s fascinating cultural and natural makeup.  Although guided tours are not mandatory, they are highly recommended as the guides will provide details of fascinating exhibits that you might never discover on your own.

Opened in 2009, the Museo is the first museum in Colombia’s Caribbean region. Each floor has a distinct theme, with an array of information on the area’s literature, nature, culture, and indigenous and ethnic history:

Sala Gabriel García Márquez – Even if you are not a reader of the Nobel Prize winner’s work, this salon is the perfect way to ease into the Caribeño atmosphere.  Short films depicting key scenes from some of the author’s major works, such as Big Mama’s Funeral, One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera, are projected onto the walls, with narration, animation, recitation and actuation of the dialogue. After the projections have ended, the room is illuminated, revealing a library where the shelves are lined with books by, and the walls are covered in images of, García Márquez and other luminaries of Colombia’s rich literary heritage. For bibliophiles, this space is nothing short of a pilgrimage site.

Sala de la Naturaleza – Colombia, per square meter, is the most bio-diverse nation on earth, and the awe-inspiring nature of the Caribbean region is on full display in this salon where visitors are treated to incredible widescreen films of stunning quality that bring the viewer along a journey through the high plateaus to the depths of the ocean. It is a truly breathtaking and evocative display.

Sala de la Gente – Here visitors encounter the people who make up the region’s diverse population. Through inventive listening and viewing portals, members of the Arhuaco, Chimila, Kogi, Zenú and Wayuu tribes introduce their cultures and ways of life. An exhibit in the adjoining room tells the stories of these populations, and those of African slaves, Jewish immigrants (mostly from Eastern Europe), and the native islanders of San Andres and Providencia, and how they all contributed to the culturally rich makeup of this fascinating region.

Sala de la Palabra – Entering this cylindrical room, visitors encounter people from different Caribbean areas who have been filmed recounting myths and legends, reciting poetry, singing songs and telling stories of their communities. Each screen is made from fibrous plant life – such as a reed, wood or palm – which is unique to the particular place the speaker is from, truly rooting the viewer to the moment.

Sala de la Acción – This is the most “traditional” exhibit to be found at the Museo, where visitors view the various tools and implements that the indigenous people and early settlers created and utilized in daily life. In another audio/visual installation, the region’s political and social history is recounted by different people, providing multiple versions of the same stories and providing the audience with much to contemplate.

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Sala de la Expresión – The final stop on the tour – and by far the most boisterous. Large screens project the almost holographic images of musicians who play the incredibly diverse Caribbean rhythms of bullerengue, chalupa, fandango, cumbia, porro, and others. It is impossible to stand still, especially as the musicians start to play in concert and the dancers look as if they are inviting visitors to try their moves. It is the perfect way to conclude this fascinating trip through El Caribe.

The Museo del Caribe is located in the Parque del Cultura, Avenida Olaya Herrera, Barranquilla. Telephone: (57-5) 372.0581 

Patrick Haller

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