“El Tocado,” the largest and most ornate pre-Columbian headdress ever discovered, will be the centerpiece of a golden exhibition of 100 artifacts excavated from Peru’s legendary royal tombs. The National Geographic Museum in Washington, DC, will present “Peruvian Gold: Ancient Treasures Unearthed” during a six-month run that will open April 10.
Although it’s about 1,000 years old, “El Tocado” is in pristine condition and looks as if it was fabricated yesterday. Unearthed in 1991, the piece — whose name means headdress in Spanish — will be making its first-ever U.S. appearance.
The items in the “Peruvian Gold” collection date from 1250 BC to 1450 AD and include gold and silver ceremonial and funerary masks, ceremonial ornaments, ceramics and jewelry. The collection has an estimated value of $3.5 million to $5 million.
Moche headdress is one of the masterpieces that will be on display in the Peruvian Gold exhibition. Photograph by Joachim Rubio, Museo Larco, Lima, Peru.
From nose rings and gold feathers to elaborate headdresses, the diverse selection of artifacts offers a sweeping view of the rich artistic culture of early Peru, whose artisans rivaled the ancient Egyptians. According to National Geographic, Peruvian gold was a symbol of status, power and eternity.
“National Geographic has been sharing the stories and the archaeology of ancient Peru for more than 100 years,” said Kathryn Keane, vice president of National Geographic Exhibitions. “This exhibition is an opportunity to walk into the pages of National Geographic magazine and see unique treasures from Peru’s golden past.”
Guest curated by National Geographic’s Archaeology Fellow Dr. Fredrik Hiebert, “Peruvian Gold” features treasures on loan from three Peruvian institutions: Sican National Museum, Larco Museum and Museum of the Central Reserve Bank of Peru.
Guided tours of the “Peruvian Gold” exhibition will take place each Monday at 11 a.m. General admission is $11 for adults; $9 for National Geographic members, military, students, seniors and groups of 25 or more; $7 for children 5-12; and free for local school, student and youth groups (18 and under; advance reservation required).
At the end of September, the exhibition will head south to close out the final three months of 2014 at the Irving Arts Center in Irving, TX.