Monterrico, an upscale suburb in eastern Lima that is often sunny when the rest of the city is covered in fog, is known for its Museo de Oro (Molina 1110, Monterrico, tel. 01/345-1271, 11:30 a.m.–7 p.m. Mon.–Sun., US$11.50).
This fabulous collection of gold pieces was one of Lima ’s must-see tourist attractions until 2001, when a scandal broke alleging that many of the prize pieces were fakes. Newspapers pointed the finger at the sons of museum founder Miguel Mujica Gallo, whom the newspapers accused of selling the originals and replacing them with imitations. The family countered, saying false pieces were bought by mistake and Mujica Gallo died of sadness in the process.
Only true gold pieces are on display now at the museum, but the museum continues to suffer from a credibility problem. Gold pieces include spectacular funerary masks, ceremonial knives (tumis), a huge set of golden arms, exquisite figurines, and crowns studded with turquoise.
It is a huge potpourri of gold, with little explication in English, bought over decades from tomb raiders who work over Moche, Nasca, Sicán, and Chimú sites.
Other objects of interest include a Nasca poncho made of parrot feathers and a Moche skull that was fitted, postmortem, with purple quartz teeth. Almost as impressive is the Arms Museum upstairs, which is a terrifying assemblage of thousands of weapons, ranging from samurai swords and medieval arquebuses to Hitler paraphernalia.