I like my art paired with a bit of travel, and in Costa Rica, that mindset works out well. Yes, San José and its suburbs are replete with galleries and museums that are worth the small entrance fees (i.e. the Jade Museum, the Gold Museum, the National Museum, and the Museum of Costa Rican Art). But to see some of the country’s most mysterious and fascinating art, you’ll need to get out of town.
The Museum of the Stone Spheres houses centuries-old curiosities in the Southern Zone, and the home of the country’s main symbol—the oxcart—is a mountain town called Sarchi about an hour from the capital. Galleria Namu in San José has collected the works of indigenous tribes from all over Central America, and for those interested in the classiest kind of culture trip, head down the Inter-American for Monte Azul—an adorable boutique hotel dedicated to art.
Museum of Stone Spheres
Home of the oxcart, a vibrant Costa Rican symbol and coffee transport device, Sarchi is a quaint mountain town populated by artisans. It’s a wonderful place to pick up souvenirs, furniture, jewelry, and miscellaneous adornments. Definitely check out the massive oxcart painted in bright oranges and pinks and presiding over the town square.
In the artsy Barrio Amón in downtown San José, this gallery showcases the works of indigenous tribes from all over Central America. There are beautiful Brunka masks, Wounaan baskets and carvings, Cabecar crafts, and so much more. And if you need even more incentive to shop, the owners of Galleria Namu are known for paying the artists both fairly and immediately.
This boutique hotel perches on the edge of a 100-acre rain forest reserve near the base of Chirripó, and attracts a wide array of painters and sculptors to its artist-in-residence program. Hotel guest will be amazed by works of inspired residents, who often wind up exploring the natural beauty of Costa Rica in their pieces. The stylish hotel itself is also a work of art, as are the on-site restaurant’s delicious meals.
Museum of Costa Rican Art
In San José’s La Sabana Park, this former airport is now a museum of Costa Rican and regional art, displaying 3,000 permanent works with plenty more rotating in on a regular basis. This is a great place to check out Costa Rica’s most famous artist, Francisco Amighetti, who is known for his surrealist paintings. When planning your visit, take note: the museum is closed Mondays and admission is complimentary on Sundays.