Jade Museum: Costa Rica’s Pre-Columbian Treasures

San Jose may be well known for being the take off point of all transportations going to beaches, reserves and caverns, The Jade Museum is another reason why visitors should explore the capital of Costa Rica.

It doesn’t only showcase the multitudes of jade artifacts and jewelry Pre-Columbian people used, the Jade Museum also suggests the earliest ways of living and survival depicted in these prized treasures.

Museum Hours

The Jade Museum comes with a small entrance fee of 500 colon which is about a dollar. The museum is open from Mondays to Fridays, 8:00AM to 4:30PM. The exhibit is quite small so it would roughly take you only an hour to complete your tour.

A bilingual tour guide will help you learn more about these Pre-Columbian artifacts throughout the journey.

Jade and all its Glory
Jade is the most important commodity in the whole of Costa Rica. It is more precious and valuable than gold. The oldest pieces found in the Jade Museum dates back around 500 BC to 900 AD. There about 6,000 of these expensive artifacts in forms of jewelries, vases, sculptures & figurines, pots among many others.

Majority of the collection found in the Jade Museum come from the private works of Carlos Balser. He initially came to Costa Rica to run the Gran Hotel and became an archaeologist who did extensive studies about Costa Rican culture.

Hints of the Past
The pieces of Jade now displayed in this museum all came from various digs in and around various locations in Costa Rica for over a long period of time. So through these prized artifacts, the evolution of Costa Rican culture can be interpreted.

Ceremonial practices, hierarchy and the day-to-day living of the indigenous people of Costa Rica are quite evident on the jade pieces themselves. The technique and craftsmanship of these people can also be seen judging by how intricate some of the relics are.

One piece that surely leaves a mark to those who visit the museum is a vase that has real human teeth in it and it shows how carefully a piece of jade was added to the teeth simply for aesthetics.

Mood of the Museum

To effectively relay the visual messages of the artifacts found in the Jade Museum, the interior is carefully and dimly lit, there’s a welcoming silence as well as the sound of a flowing fountain set. All these make the vibe of the museum more peaceful and easier to explore.

Whether you came to Costa Rica for the divine beaches, impressive subterranean caves and outstanding nature reserves, it’s a good idea to not leave San Jose as soon as you get there. The Jade Museum is a place that will make your visit to the capital of San Jose worthwhile.


Getting There 

You’ll probably end up in the International Airport of San Jose when you arrive. So once you’tre out of the airport, make your way to Avenida 7, Calle 9-11 to where the Institute for National Security is situated. The Jade Museum used to be on the 11th floor and was there for over 25 years. Now, it has recently moved to the first floor with about 5 rooms occupied for the magnificent exhibition.

While the main entrance of the INS is easy to find, the Jade Museum’s entry point is a little over to the left of the main entrance.


Places to Stay Near the Jade Museum 

Sleep Inn San Jose Downtown

Clarion Hotel Amon Downtown

Hemingway Inn



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