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Valle del Cauca is a fertile land for culture and art. The department also has numerous museums and culture houses that exhibit works of artists and writers from Colombia and other parts of the world. Aside from Cali, the capital, there are other municipalities, such as Roldanillo, Sevilla, and Calima, where it is also possible to become immersed in culture.
Santiago de Cali has an excellent infrastructure and cultural offer represented by museums with diverse themes. A good place to start is the Museo de Arte Colonial Religioso, which compiles and holds temporary exhibits revolving around Catholic religious objects, their history and authors, as well as San Pedro, the district in which it is located.
Another museum, which is interesting because of its architecture, activities and exhibits, is the Museo de Arte Moderno La Tertulia, with 300 works by modern artists from all over the world, distributed in five exhibition halls. It also has an open-air theater and a façade that blends the modern and the old. West of the city and near the Cali River is the Gato del Río (River Cat), a sculpture by deceased Pereira artist Hernando Tejada.
The Museo Arqueológico La Merced is framed by several colonial and republican style buildings.
The Museo Arqueológico La Merced, in Cali’s historical center, is framed by several colonial and republican style buildings. It was declared a National Monument, and has six halls for permanent exhibits and one for temporary ones. Aside from housing ceramic and gold pieces from the pre-Hispanic cultures of southwestern Colombia, it offers courses, workshops, and audiovisual pieces to its visitors.
Other museums worth visiting are the Museo Arqueológico Julio César Cubillos, the Museo Religioso y Colonial de San Francisco, the Museo de Ciencias Naturales Federico Carlos Lehmann, and the Museo Etnográfico Lilí on the Km 2 signpost on the road to Jamundí.
Works of Colombian artist Omar Rayo /Photo by Flickr user • • • ★ Shakexy ★ • • •.
The Museo Rayo de Dibujo y Grabado Latinoamericano, founded by Omar Rayo, a town native, is located in northern Valle del Cauca. The artist created the museum in 1981 as homage to his birthplace and donated two thousand of his graphic works for its permanent exhibit.
Over 500 artists from different corners in Latin America accompany Master Rayo’s pieces, among them, Lucy Tejada, Eduardo Ramírez Villamizar, Juan Gómez Quiroz, Rufino Tamayo, Roberto Matta, and Rodolfo Abularach.
The Museo Rayo has over 2,000 engravings by Omar Rayo and works by close to 500 Latin American artists.
The museum also holds twenty temporary exhibits every year and several literary, musical, and film events. The contribution made by this culture center to research, divulgation, and workshops in art education, especially in the field of engraving, deserves to be highlighted.
The museum has three exhibit halls, a library, an auditorium, an open-air theater, and a souvenir shop. Mexican architect Leopoldo Gout participated in the design of this museum, which is an architectural reference and attraction for tourists.
The museum sponsors the Museo de Arte Vial (museum of roadside art), an exhibit of twenty paintings done on both sides of metal sheets, located on the road that goes to Roldanillo and that blend into the landscape.
Calima vessel, Calima Gold Museum, Cali / Photo by Museo del Oro.
The Museo Arqueológico Calima Darién at the center of Valle del Cauca, boasts a series of pieces collected with great scientific rigor, which reveal the history and lifestyle of the indigenous peoples who inhabited the region in pre-Hispanic times. It constitutes a fascinating tour of 10,000 years of history.
The area occupied by the museum was home to several groups of the Calima culture, groups that varied according to their chronology and art forms. They were the Ilama, Yotoco, Sonso, and Malagana tribes.
The area occupied by the museum was once the home of the pre-Hispanic Calima Culture.
Due to the uniqueness of the objects on display, the museum has become a vital site for archaeologists researching the cultures that created them. This research has been a very important because, historically, southwestern Colombia has been the focus of attention of guaqueros (treasure hunters) who unlawfully have laid their hands on these ancient treasures.
The exhibit is complemented by videos, conferences, workshops, and events in the museum’s theater.
The most representative products of Valle del Cauca are sugar cane and its derivatives and constitute the reason for having erected the Sugar Cane Museum, in the municipality of Cerrito. The building is located on Hacienda Piedechinche, only 42 km from Cali.
Documents that record the history of the growth of the sugar industry, gardens full of plants that surround sugar cane culture, sugar cane mills, instruments used for the cultivation of this magnificent plant, and a series of works from colonial times and the 19th century are part of the museum’s exhibits that immerse tourists in sugar cane life.