Whenever you travel, if you are interested in learning all about the country you visit I recommend doing two things. The first one is to go on a city tour. Those are normally in the form of bus tours, bike tours or walking tours. In them you learn tons about the city, see its special landmarks and find fun things to do.
The second one is visiting some of its most representative museums. If you pay attention and truly take the time to learn about what it is displaying. You will get an insider’s view of the place’s history and culture.
Central America isn’t the exception. In each of the countries, you will find tons of museums that you can visit for a small fee and some other for free. Continue scrolling down to find five of the best in each country.
Museums in Belize
1. Museum of Belize - The building where it is located was once a prison and was built in 1857. It held criminals until 2002. It is now dedicated to showcasing and preserving objects of scientifical and historical interest. There is a section where you can even see how the prisoners used to live. The museum is located in Belize city.
2. The Gallery of San Pedro - This gallery has the largest selection of Arts & Crafts in Belize. There are over 1,500 paintings here. Plus sculptures, masks, and even hammocks. Aside from a place that showcases some of the best local art, it serves as a store where you can buy some of the pieces.
3. Chaa Creek Natural History Museum - The museum is part of a Luxury Eco Lodge. In this museum, visitors are taken along a fascinating timeline of the natural history of the world and shown how Belize and the region got where they are and became the tropical paradise it is now. It is located in San Ignacio Belize.
4. Maya Center Mayan Museum - The museum was opened in 2010 to promote the local Mayan culture. What makes it unique is the fact that in it you see more than exhibitions on the walls. This is a living museum were locals demonstrate all of the great aspects of their own culture. Visitors are encouraged to participate in the hands-on exhibits.
5. Gulisi Garifuna Museum - It is located in Dangriga and celebrates the fun and unique Garifuna culture. The museum opened in 2004. It offers a multimedia experience that will show you everything you need to know about this wonderful group of people. It is named after the woman who founded the Punta Negra settlement in the Toledo District.
Museums in Guatemala
1. Palacio Nacional de la Cultura - It is the large green building on the Central Park of Guatemala City. It used to be the seat of power for the country but in 2001 it was turned into a museum.Although you can see a wide array of sculptures, monuments, and historical documents you may find the biggest highlights to be the gorgeous architecture, chandeliers, and artwork on the walls.
2. Choco Museo - This is a tiny place in Antigua Guatemala where you learn all about ho Mayans used cacao beans and how it came to be the worldwide sensation that it is now. It is nothing spectacular, the real attraction is when you get to the hands-on exhibit where you get cocoa beans and do all the work needed to turn it into chocolate.
3. Museo Ixchel del Traje Indigena - Guatemala has an immense amount of Mayan populations living in it. Depending on the region they are from their traditional attire changes. This was once a way that the European conquerors had to be able to tell where each person was from. Now they are something they wear proudly. The museum is privately owned and showcases each of those traditional clothes.
4. Museo Miraflores - This is a museum in Guatemala City that is located right over where the Mayan City of Kaminaljuyu used to be. The area is densely populated and has tons of malls around. During the construction of these builders have found tons and tons of structures and artifacts that were preserved. Since 2002 some of them are being displayed here.
5. Museo del Ferrocarril - During its early days, the train and railways were the main economic engine of Guatemala. It was used to transport all sorts of products throughout the country. Since 2003 the main station located in Guatemala City was turned into a museum where you get to see some of the last trains and learn all about how important they were for the local economy.
Museums in Honduras
1. Museo para la Identidad Nacional - You will be able to find this museum in Tegucigalpa. It first opened in 2006 as a place where Hondurans and visitors can learn all about the history of the country. The building where it is located is an attraction in itself, so gorgeous! It was built in 1882 in a neoclassical style.
2. Museo de la Escultura - This museum is located within the Copán Ruinas archaeological site. In it you can see over 3,000 pieces of Mayan sculpture distributed in around 59 exhibitions. In it you get to see the original bright colors that the Mayas used in their artwork and learn about their importance.
3. Museo de Antropología - The museum is located in San Pedro Sula and opened in 1994. In its 20 rooms, you get to learn all about the country’s pre- Columbian history and go on a trip in time until the modern days. You can also learn tons of interesting facts about the local agriculture and local fauna.
4. Bay Islands Underwater Museum - This is a truly unique and tiny museum located off of the Coast of Roatán Island. To see what it has to offer you have to go scuba diving or diving on the warm and crystal clear waters of the Caribbean Sea. In it, you can find amazing sculptures and artifacts such as Spanish Galleons, canoes, pottery and even an ancient Mayan cemetery.
5. Galería Nacional de Arte - This museum was inaugurated in 1996 and was created to preserve and showcase the artistic creations of local artists. In it you will find anything from rupestrian art of the days before the Europeans arrived, to the most modern sculptures. You can find it in San Pedro Sula.
Museums in El Salvador
1. Museo de Arte - Locals also call it Marte and was inaugurated in 2003 as a private museum where a large selection of some of the best art from El Salvadorans. You can see works of art that go from the 19th century to the present day. I would suggest taking the guided visit so you are able to learn more about the pieces in it.
2. Museo de la Revolución Salvadoreña - The museum opened in 1992 with the objective of honoring the heroes and martyrs from the civil war of the 80’s. It is located in Perquin, Morazan and has five different rooms where you will learn about hat cause the war, the peace treaty and guns.
3. Museo Nacional de Antropología Dr. David J. Guzman - This is a quite old museum that goes back to 1883, back then its founder wanted to showcase the local history, biology, and geology. It has moved to several places throughout the years. Until it finally found a prettier and permanent place in 2001. You will be able to find it in San Salvador.
4. Tin Marín Museo de los Niños - Tin Marin is a magical place where kids can learn about the world through experimenting. They can become pilots, reporter, firefighters, and experience zero gravity. This is a place you must visit if traveling with kids. You will find it in San Salvador.
5. Military Museum El Zapote Barracks - When it comes to any kind of conflict you have to hear both sides. That’s why, if you visit Museo de la Revolución you should also visit the military museum. This will give you a better understanding of the civil war. It is also located in San Salvador.
Museums in Nicaragua
1. Museo de la Revolución - It is located in the city of Leon, on the western side of the park. In it you will find an extensive collection of photos, articles, and clippings that document the revolutions. There is also information about what happened before and after it. The building isn’t spectacular but the information in it is invaluable for the history buff.
2. Museum of Legends and Traditions (Museo de Tradiciones y Leyendas) - This museum is also located in the city of Leon. The building was once a prison where tons of prisoners used to be tortured. Now, all of the old cells have been remodeled to host the exhibitions that tell you all about the local traditions and legends. The murals also give information about how prisoners used to be tortured.
3. Museo del Parque Volcán De Masaya - It is on the visitor's center of the Masaya Volcano, one of the only ones around the world where you can drive all the way up to the active crater. The showcases information about this unique and active volcano.
4. The National Museum - It is the largest museum in the country and located on the National Palace. The building goes back to 1935. For over 50 years it was the seat of government of the country. There is also a large library within the building.
5. Centro de Arte Fundación Ortiz-Gurdián - This foundation was established in 1996 by the heads of private companies as a nonprofit organization to promote local culture. Its main focus is showcasing paintings by local artists and supporting them. This is yet another museum in the city of Leon.