San José Sights



Museo del Jade

Museo del Jade Review

This is the world's largest collection of American jade—that's "American" in the hemispheric sense. 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. In the spectacular Jade Room, pieces are illuminated from behind so you can appreciate their translucency. 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. The final room on the tour has 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. The collection consists of 5,000-plus pieces; space constraints mean you can see only about a quarter of them. The museum's present location on the first floor of an office tower gives it a downtown feel, even if it's at the northern edge of the city center. Plans are underway to construct a larger space on the Plaza de la Democracia.

Updated: 02-15-2013

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