The treasures of Machu Picchu go on show in Florida… and online

There’s no need to go to Peru to admire the golden treasures of Machu Picchu. The Boca Raton Museum of Art in Florida has gathered nearly 200 such artifacts together in an exhibition titled “Machu Picchu and the Golden Empires of Peru.” It is also accompanied by an immersive augmented reality experience.

For the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, Machu Picchu is “a resting place of butterflies in the epicenter of the great circle of life.” Now, the Boca Raton Museum of Art is letting visitors immerse themselves in the history of this ancient site. It is the first museum in the world to host the traveling exhibition “Machu Picchu and the Golden Empires of Peru,” created by the Cityneon group with the support of the Peruvian Ministry of Culture and the Inkaterra association.

For the occasion, history buffs will be able to admire 192 objects, many of which come from Andean royal tombs. Among them is a completely intact gold attire of a Chimú emperor, dating back to 1300 A.D. Some of these artifacts have never been exhibited outside of Peru, according to the Boca Raton Museum of Art. Visitors will be guided through the exhibition by the mythical hero Ai Apaec, as much feared as revered by the Mochica people.

“Through this once-in-a-lifetime exhibition, visitors will have the opportunity to come face-to-face with history in a way that has never been done before,” said Ron Tan, Cityneon’s Executive Chairman & Group CEO. “With this exhibition, visitors can personally feel the magnificence of Machu Picchu like they are physically there, while exploring the ancient cultures who lived in this city 7,000 feet above sea level in the Andes Mountains.”

A “sacred place” to preserve

Conditions of access to Machu Picchu have changed since the pandemic, but “Machu Picchu and the Golden Empires of Peru” lets people discover the archaeological site through a virtual journey in augmented reality. For this, drones flew over the Inca sanctuary — devoid of tourists for eight months — to immortalize the site from all angles. Visitors to the exhibition will be able to discover these images via virtual reality headsets and motion chairs, made available as part of the exhibition.

In light of the global pandemic, the Inca site of Machu Picchu can now welcome only 250,000 visitors per year, visitors who also have to respect measures such as compulsory mask-wearing and social distancing. But other rules are also considered necessary for the preservation of this sanctuary, according to José Miguel Bastante, director of the national archaeological park of Machu Picchu in Peru.

“Some tourists do not understand that Machu Picchu is the same as any other sacred religious place. They arrive, they see grass, and they say, ‘Oh, this is a park, I can lie down and do whatever I want’,” he said in a newsletter from the Getty Conservation Center. “No, it’s not like that. Machu Picchu really is a sacred place, like Notre Dame. If you inform tourists in advance what they’re going to see — and the rules — that helps conservation of heritage. A hundred informed tourists do less harm to a site than one tourist who is not informed.”

The exhibition “Machu Picchu and the Golden Empires of Peru” runs until March 6 at the Boca Raton Museum of Art in Florida, USA. It will then travel around the world.