Museo Nacional de Historia
One block east of Mercado Central and one block south on 10a Avenida is the Museo Nacional de Historia (9a Calle 9-70 Zona 1, tel. 2253-6149, 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Mon.–Fri., $1.50) with historical documents, clothing, and paintings. Among the more interesting exhibits are some photographs by Eadweard Muybridge, who visited and photographed the country in 1875. The museum is housed in a very attractive colonial building.
Casa Mima (8a Avenida 14-12 Zona 1, tel. 2253-4020, 9 a.m.–12:30 p.m. and 2–6 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Sat., $2.50) offers a fascinating peek into the lives of Guatemala’s upper middle class from generations past. The splendidly restored 19th-century townhouse is furnished in art deco, Victorian, and French neo-rococo styles. A quaint café on the back patio serves coffee and pastries. English-speaking guides are sometimes available to show you around.
La Casa de Cervantes
La Casa de Cervantes (5a Calle 5-18 Zona 1, tel. 2232-5696, www.lacasadecervantes.com) showcases fair trade goods in Guatemala and has a gift shop, where you can purchase fair trade coffee, handicrafts, and other products. It also has periodic exhibitions and special events. It’s more of an information and cultural center than a museum but is certainly worth a look.
Museo del Ferrocarril
Train enthusiasts will enjoy Museo del Ferrocarril (in front of the intersection of 9a Avenida and 20 Calle, tel. 2232-9270, ferroguat [at] hotmail [dot] com, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Tues.–Fri., 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Sat.–Sun., free), housed in a refurbished building that was once the city’s train station. The state-run railways, known then as FEGUA, were privatized during the Arzú administration. Among the attractions are several steam engines, train cars, and exhibits of train paraphernalia, including some wonderful old photographs. Some cool classic cars are also on display here.
Museo del Músico Invisible
Guatemala City’s newest and most offbeat museum is the Museo del Músico Invisible (Museum of the Invisible Musician, 13 Calle 7-30, Zona 1, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Sat., $2.50 adults, $2 students and children). The brainchild of Germán Rodríguez, the museum is the realization of a dream 15 years in the making and the product of a life-long collection of antique musical instruments that began when Rodríguez was 11.
Among the items on display are harmoniums from the 1840s and 50s, phonographs, music boxes, player pianos, and antique radios. Most were acquired in Guatemala, though some were brought over from neighboring Mexico. Facilities include a theater for viewing movies or listening to musical performances. Rodríguez says he has many more instruments in his collection than what is on display and periodically changes the museum’s exhibits.
© Al Argueta from Moon Guatemala, 3rd Edition. Photos © Al Argueta www.alargueta.com