There are a few museums in and around Sucre, but the first I chose to visit was the mask museum which is right in the centre of town. A very small place occupying one of the old colonial buildings just off the square, the museum is divided into three sections.

The first area I was shown to was a small room showing a collection of photographs. The images were of Bolivian drag artists applying their make up. This exhibition tied together the mask museum and the highly under publicised gay pride month we are apparently at the beginning of. The lack of publicity is less to do with Sucre’s conservative nature and more just the lack of organisation and general publicity – it just seems to be assumed that people will know about events. The photographs themselves were not that impressive and I spent about 5 minutes in there before moving on to the second section of the museum.

Moving upstairs I discovered another small room which reminded me very much of a tiny section of one of the old rooms at the natural history museum. A (not very) scale model of an old indigenous village acted as the centre piece, supported by some glass cabinets with tools and some life size models of people in ancient dress. It was pretty stuffy and uninspiring, although it was interesting to see some of the tools and other old artefacts.

What really makes the museum is the final exhibition room which houses a series of carnival masks from around Bolivia. There has obviously been some investment in this exhibit with the masks all individually lit in a long thin room that is otherwise pitch black. It made for quite a haunting experience and was a fantastic way to show off the masks. My Spanish isn’t good enough yet to fully understand the meaning behind each (which was explained in Spanish text below), but there were some definite themes – the devil appeared regularly as well as several different animals. I would have stayed quite a bit longer if it wasn’t for a noisy and fairly disinterested school party joining me in the small space (something else which reminded me of visits to the big museums in London).

It’s completely free to enter the mask museum and it’s open all week. You can find it half way down the first block from the square on Calle Espana.