Museo del Jade (Jade Museum)
Museo del Jade (Jade Museum) Review
Long ensconced in cramped quarters in a downtown office building, San José's Jade Museum moved to spacious new digs on the west side of the Plaza de la Democracia in 2014. For the first time ever, it has room to display its entire collection of American jade—that's "American" in the hemispheric sense—the world's largest collection of the green gemstone at 5,000-plus pieces. Nearly all the items on display were produced in pre-Columbian times, and most of the jade (pronounced hah-day in Spanish) dates from 300 BC to AD 700. A series of drawings explains how this extremely hard stone was cut using string saws with quartz-and-sand abrasive. Jade was sometimes used in jewelry designs, but it was most often carved into oblong pendants. The museum also has other pre-Columbian artifacts, such as polychrome vases and three-legged metates (small stone tables for grinding corn), as well as a gallery of modern art. Also included on the tour is a startling display of ceramic fertility symbols. A glossy, photo-filled English-language guide to the museum sells for $15; the Spanish version is only $3.