If you want to experience both Colombia’s present and past in Medellín, simply head to one of the city’s many museums. They’re an essential part of Medellín’s culture, and have a lot to offer besides just history lessons. Some of them contain iconic sculptures or paintings, while others have interactive exhibits on important historical events.
Since Medellín is the second-largest city in Colombia, there are plenty of museums to choose from. Take one of our our Medellin museum tours and explore the best the city has to offer!
Visiting the best museums in Medellín
Deciding which of Medellín’s museums are the best will ultimately be up to you, but most people agree that some of them stand above the rest. This is due to the quality of their exhibits, their historical significance, their amazing architecture – or all of the above! To learn more about the top museums in Medellín, just keep reading.
Museo de Antioquia
This isn’t just one of the best museums in Medellín; it’s also arguably one of the best museums in the entire country. It’s the oldest museum in the city, and the second-oldest in Colombia; with just a few exceptions, it’s been open since 1881. Many visit the Museo de Antioquia to see the works of Botero, known as “the son of Colombia” and the country’s most well-known artist. New exhibitions are added periodically, with the aim of spurring social transformation through regional heritage, culture, and art. You won’t just see eye-opening exhibits that give you insights into Colombia’s culture, though; you can also enjoy the building’s beautiful architecture.
Casa de la Memoria
The Antioquia region (where Medellín is located) has been the site of pervasive violence for decades, mainly between the Colombian government and FARC. Even though things have improved over the past several years, this museum places a spotlight on that particular facet of the region’s history. Its motto is “remember in order not to repeat”; the goal is to promote peaceful coexistence in the country, and to preserve the memories of the conflict’s victims. It isn’t a war museum, though; it focuses on telling stories about ordinary people’s lives, and showing the aftermath of the conflict. Many of the exhibits are interactive, and quite a few of them are subtitled in English as well.
Official website: https://www.museocasadelamemoria.gov.co/
El Castillo Museo y Jardines
The El Castillo Museo y Jardines is a great place to see the European influence that can be found throughout South America. And what a wonderful example of that influence it is: a majestic castle sitting right in the middle of Medellín. It was originally the home of a Colombian-German couple when it was built in 1930, but in 1971 it was converted to El Castillo Museo y Jardines. Visitors can take one of the hourly guided tours, which ushers them through rooms filled with fine china collections and elegant antique furniture. The sightseeing doesn’t stop there, though; the castle is surrounded by expansive gardens, which are great for exploring, relaxing, or having a romantic picnic in the shade.
Casa Museo Gardeliana
If there’s one dance form that Medellín is known for, it’s the tango. The Casa Museo Gardeliana is also known as the Tango Museum; it may not be the biggest museum in the city, but it’s certainly one of the most colorful! This museum is dedicated to the singer and tango superstar, Argentinean Carlos Gardel. He may not have been a native of Colombia, but his life and career sparked Medellín’s passion for tango that can still be seen in the city today. The museum contains many of the artist’s personal objects, and also explains the history of tango through its exhibits.
Official website: https://patrimoniomedellin.gov.co/proyectos/mdm/museos-de-medellin/casa-gardeliana/
Cementerio Museo del San Pedro
This museum is a more recent addition to Medellín’s list of attractions, but the cemetery itself has been around since 1842. Originally meant to be a resting place for the city’s upper classes, it has an eerie beauty that’s even more striking under the full moon. Speaking of which, if you time your visit right you can take a nocturnal tour of the cemetery under the full moon – the museum organizes various events around the lunar cycle. Even though it’s a cemetery, there’s a lot more to see than just gravestones. The elite of Medellín often wanted to be memorialized with marble sculptures, so the museum is full of artistic expressions that are well worth seeing.
Official website: https://cementeriosanpedro.org.co/
Museo de Arte Moderno
Fans of modern art will love the Museo de Arte Moderno, especially now that the building has completed massive renovations for an even more impressive experience. Since the exhibits come from modern artists, this museum has the unique advantage of being able to change them every few months. However, this is more than just a museum; it’s also a key cultural center for the city. There are temporary exhibitions, concerts, and outdoor cinema events that bring people of all different ages and backgrounds together. Pre-2013, the Museo de Arte Moderno could be found in the Carlos E. Restrepo neighborhood. After relocating to Ciudad del Río, the museum has helped transform the area from an industrial district to a center for socialization and culture.
Museo de Ciudad
Located in Cerro Nutibara, this museum isn’t quite in Medellín itself; it’s on one of the hills that surrounds the city. The Museo de Ciudad features gigantic murals by artist Pedro Nel Gómez, depicting key chapters in Colombia’s history. There’s also an exhibition on Medellín’s urban development over the years, which is a saga in and of itself.
If you want to make the most out of your trip to Cerro Nutibara, you could also stop by Pueblito Paisa. This charming spot is a replica of Medellín in days gone by. Those that haven’t been able to see an authentic Colombian pueblito will enjoy the picturesque village, even if the “inhabitants” are a bit too focused on selling knick-knacks to the tourists.
Official website: https://patrimoniomedellin.gov.co/proyectos/mdm/museos-de-medellin/museo-de-ciudad/
Medellín’s best museums offer something for everyone
Whether you’re looking for a glimpse into Colombia’s history, or you’re interested in viewing the works of internationally renowned artists, Medellín is an awesome destination for all that and other great Medellin tours.