Banco Central museums called jewel of 20th century

Museos de Banco central photo
Panoramic photos of the interior of the marble and stainless steel museum building.

The Plaza de la Cultura has been designated as one of more than 750 most outstanding works ofarchitecture built between 1900 and 1999.

The 30-year-old plaza building received the designation by being included in 20th-Century World Architecture, an 814-page atlas produced by Phaidon Press Limited, London.

“The collection is the result of a rigorous selection process and the input of more than 150 specialists from around the world, ensuring that each region has benefited from expert advice,” said the publishing firm. The $200 book features 3,000 color photos and 2,500 black and white ones.

Of course for the casual visitor, the plaza is just a flat expanse of concrete. The real architectural jewel is beneath. This is where the Museos del Banco Central are located. The building was designed by the late Edgar Vargas, Jorge Bertheau and Jorge Borbón, said the Banco Central in announcing the honor.

The announcement also heralds a new exhibit at the museums that will open Nov. 23. The exhibit shows the steps in the creation of the building and its relationship to the historic Teatro Nacional to the south.

The Banco Central began the construction in 1978 to house its various collections. Among these are the gold museum with an overwhelming display of Costa Rican archaeological artifacts and the numismatic museum with exhibits of money going back to the early colonial era.

The new show is called Exhibición Punto y Contrapunto: 30 aniversario de la Plaza de la Cultura.

There also is an extensive art collection and a gallery of temporary displays that houses some of the more controversial exhibits in the city.

The three-level structure was completed in three years. Visitors to the plaza where most of the city’s pigeons congregate usually are unaware that they are walking on the roof of a building. They probably are not aware either that the plaza is really private property belonging to the Banco Central, which pays for the guards.

The only sign of the museums on the plaza are some ventilating ducts and a few skylights.

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