Friday, July 11, 2014

The Weirdest Museum I've Ever Seen

Exploring the city of Leon, Nicaragua reminded me, along every corner and step of the way, that I was truly in the heart of Latin America. Leon has this energy and allure to it that’s hard to describe. Like Panama City, Leon is crumbly and colonial and filled with architectural beauty. Especially compared to my days in El Cuco, El Salvador, Leon was a stark contrast. The city has historically been a hotbed of political energy which is evidenced in Leon’s Museum of Myths & Legends. Hands down, it’s the weirdest and wackiest museum I’ve ever seen. This lovely figure greets you at the entrance:

The Weirdest Museum: Myths and Legends in Leon, Nicaragua

In fact, the museum is filled with las gigantonas, or giant puppets, that are made of papier-mache. Las Gigantonas have been a cultural tradition in Leon for hundreds of years since they were first created by the area’s indigenous people to make fun of their Spanish colonizers. 

The museum itself is actually an old jail. There are murals everywhere on the walls depicting the various methods of torture that were used on prisoners throughout the years. Las gigantonas are scattered throughout the cells and used to illustrate traditional myths and legends from Nicaraguan folk history.

The Museum of Myths and Legends in Nicaragua

Torture methods in Nicaragua

Museum murals in Myths and Legends, Leon, Nicaragua

Las gigantonas in The Museum of Myths & Legends, Nicaragua
This myth had something to do with a Nicaraguan chief tricking a Spaniard into marrying his daughter
Giant puppets in Nicaragua
A farmer working the fields
The Museum of Myths & Legends is not for the esteemed art critic, but since I’m not much of a “museum” gal myself, I found it quirky and entertaining. Yes, it’s cheesy and the giant puppets are quite pantomime-y in appearance, but it only took an hour or so to go through and I learned some pretty funny cultural stories. The admission fee was something like $3 USD and included an English tour guide. 

Overall, this museum made for a good morning trip and is easily walkable from downtown Leon. Thumbs up from me, even if it’s the weirdest museum I’ve ever been to! Have you ever visited a historical site that made you go hmmmm?

The weirdest museum: Museum of Myths & Legends in Nicaragua
The only thing normal about this museum - a pretty garden with mosaic murals
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