Located in the capital city of San Jose, the Costa Rica National Museum sits directly across from the country’s Legislative Assembly. The museum is situated in the Bellavista Fortress, which was built in 1917 and originally used as military barracks, specifically during the 1948 Costa Rica civil war. Tourists visiting the museum can still see hundreds of bullet holes in the walls.But while the museum did not open in its current location until 1950, it was originally created on May 4, 1887 in the building of the Universidad de Santo Tomas, with the intention of providing the country with a public establishment to “deposit, classify and study natural and artistic products.”
The Museo Nacional de Costa Rica was originally encouraged by the project of “order and progress,” which reorganized the national culture through educational changes and the development of institutions with specific cultural and scientific purposes.
Since its very first years, the Costa Rica National Museum has focused on scientific investigation, education, exhibition and defense of the country’s natural and cultural heritage. Certain individuals who were instrumental during the museum’s first years included zoologist Anastasio Alfaro, educator Pablo Biolley, author Adolfo Tonduz and ornithologist Jose Castulo Zeledon.
Inside the Costa Rica National Museum, tourists can find a wide variety of displays on the country’s history and culture, from the pre-Columbian times all the way to the present.