San Luis Gonzaga’s High School Elías Leiva Quirós Historical Ethnographic Museum (Museo Histórico Etnográfico Elías Leiva Quirós del Colegio San Luis Gonzaga) aims to preserve and exhibit the archaeological and historical collection that started to be collected on November 10th, 1932. It consists of a colonial arms room, a pre-Columbian pieces room and a room that represents a “colonial home”. It is located in one of the oldest cities in Costa Rica, in a valley not far from San Jose. Here, students go to class in a building that has been an academy, barracks, school and museum.
To celebrate the anniversary of the decree that made free and obligatory the national education, several teachers in the province of Cartago gathered many historical artifacts. Professor Elías Leiva Quirós, it’s first manager, well known for his effort and sacrifice in making this project a reality, with the idea to educate students in the love for their country through its history.
This is how, with these first objects, the museum was created by decree on January 9th, 1832 at the San Luis Gonzaga High School, a museum dedicated to preserve the Cartago culture. After the death of Don Elías, in 1936, the museum passed through different experiences, especially marked by the time of the civil war in 1948. During the conflict, the San Luis Gonzaga High School was used as barracks and prison and during this occupation is that the museum was looted. After 1948, the surviving collection is made available to the public, but without the necessary security conditions, this situation continued until 1965 when the then-director Don Jesús Baldares Molina introduced several improvements to the museum and moved it to its current location at the lower part of the institutional building northeast section.
On November 10th, 1965 it was reopened with the name Elías Leiva Quirós Ethnographic Museum, as a tribute to its sponsor and it is in this structure that operates at present. Within its extensive collection people can trace the history of Costa Rica, from pre-Hispanic times through the period of conquest and colony, until the nineteenth and early twentieth century.
To complete the experience, the same building that houses the school and the museum is an architectural gem with a lot of history: built in the 1920s, with its impressive stairway entrance and central plaza, it has seen many generations of students, as it was the host of the first high school in Costa Rica, opened in 1869.
The trip is complemented with the living history that exists in the “old city”. All around the city’s central town there are historic houses and buildings, many with sensitive architectural works that combine with the beautiful view of the Irazú Volcano and the Tierra Blanca and Pacaya towns. The museum seeks to be a dynamic entity, which is projected to the San Luis Gonzaga students and faculty, and including them in its activities designed to help the Cartago community. The Elías Leiva Quirós Historical Ethnographic Museum is a project that is constantly being updated, as it has throughout its history and now begins a new cycle in it’s process. Come and be part of the living history of this museum!
Address: North side of the San Luis Gonzaga High School, district: Occidental, canton: Cartago, province: Cartago, Costa Rica. Zone postal code: 30102.
GPS Coordinates: 9.862428,-83.922689 (9°51’44.74″N, 83°55’21.68″W)
Phone: + (506) 2551-0895
Address map: Click here to view directions from Central Park, San Jose, Costa Rica TO the Elías Leiva Quirós of the San Luis Gonzaga High School Historical Ethnographic Museum in Cartago, Costa Rica at Google Maps