Belén’s Treasure

In Belén de Umbría there is a fantastic museum with a very unique collection. The privately run Museo Eliseo Bolívar displays indigenous artifacts from pre-Columbian times along with personal items collected by the grandfather of the museum’s current owners. I was invited for a personal tour by my student, Sebastián, whose family runs the museum. I visited with my girlfriend, Marisol.

Museo Eliseo Bolívar in Belén de Umbría, Risaralda, Colombia

Museo Eliseo Bolívar

The museum is set in a beautiful home with a large open courtyard on the outskirts of Belén. The views of the town and surrounding green hills are amazing.

Museo Eliseo Bolívar in Belén de Umbría, Risaralda, Colombia

Museo Eliseo Bolívar

View from Museo Eliseo Bolívar in Belén de Umbría, Risaralda, Colombia

View from Museo Eliseo Bolívar

View from Museo Eliseo Bolívar in Belén de Umbría, Risaralda, Colombia

View from Museo Eliseo Bolívar

The first rooms are the ethnographic section, showing old photos of Belén and displaying rare personal items, old irons and other household items, a Victrola phonograph, and an antique movie reel from Germany. The library contains many books printed in the 1700s and magazines from the mid 20th century. There is also a small chapel with priceless ceramic religious figurines.

Ethnographic section at Museo Eliseo Bolívar in Belén de Umbría, Risaralda, Colombia

Ethnographic section

Ethnographic section at Museo Eliseo Bolívar in Belén de Umbría, Risaralda, Colombia

Ethnographic section

In the main gallery, there are countless artifacts from the indigenous Quimbaya people who once populated the area. Ceramic pottery, small tools, ceramic figures, and more are housed behind glass cases. Some of the pieces in the collection are totally unique and can not be found in other museums in Colombia.

History gallery at Museo Eliseo Bolívar in Belén de Umbría, Risaralda, Colombia

History gallery

Quimbaya pottery in the history gallery at Museo Eliseo Bolívar in Belén de Umbría, Risaralda, Colombia

Quimbaya pottery

Scattered among the Quimbaya artifacts are more modern items, such as a money collection from several countries around the world, religious artifacts, paintings, articles of clothing, and even cannonballs.

Religious artifacts in the history gallery at Museo Eliseo Bolívar in Belén de Umbría, Risaralda, Colombia

Religious artifacts

International money in the history gallery at Museo Eliseo Bolívar in Belén de Umbría, Risaralda, Colombia

International money

We were also able to see a stereoscope with rare photos from the early 20th century. This is only one of two stereoscopes known to exist in all of Colombia. I’ve also seen the other one at Caliwood in Cali.

Stereoscope at Museo Eliseo Bolívar in Belén de Umbría, Risaralda, Colombia

Stereoscope

Admission is free but it’s important to call ahead to schedule a visit. Follow this link for more details. The museum is a must-see if you are in this part of Colombia and is worth the trip. The hospitality of the family and the wonderful collection are both treasures of Belén.

Me and Sebastián at Museo Eliseo Bolívar in Belén de Umbría, Risaralda, Colombia

Me and Sebastián

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