If you plan to visit only one museum while in Lima it should probably be this one. The National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History of Peru beats the Museo de la Nacion, which can close for a month or two at a time with little notice, hands down. Located in the district of Pueblo Libre, in the beautiful little plaza, there’s no excuse not to try some of Lima’s world-renowned food while you are there.
Unfortunately, from what I understand, what was the main attraction in my opinion – the huge Chavin monolith – has been taken back to Ancash to a newly constructed Chavin museum. Whether it will come back, I don’t know. Fortunately there are plenty of other pre-Columbian artefacts to hold a visitor’s attention as well as a large, fairly impressive, scale model of Machu Picchu.
Interestingly, part of this building was lived in by independence fighter Simón Bolívar during his time in Peru. The museum has kept the mansion preserved in the style of the time with antique furniture and Republican-era ornaments. Also in this part of the building are a number of scale models of colonial Lima and an exhibition detailing the full (and little known to most visitors to Peru) post-colonial history of the country.