Jade Museum´s Historical Review

The Constitutional Congress of the Republic of Costa Rica adopted Act Nº12, by which an insurance monopoly is created favoring the State, naming it National Insurance Bank (Banco Nacional de Seguros) on October 30th of 1924, and 24 years later, changing its name for National Insurance Institute (Instituto Nacional de Seguros-INS). In the seventies the Instituto Nacional de Seguros, facing the situation of unrelenting tomb robbing (huaquerismo) and commercialization of archaeological objects, within the national territory and abroad, acquired artifacts coming from collectors by purchase, and seldom by donation, backed in the following decrees: Decree Nº4809 of 1971, Article 1t states: “Independent Institutions are authorized to acquire, by request of the Board of Directors of the National Museum, Costa Rican archaeological pieces for their custody and exhibition in the museum, with the purpose of avoiding they leave the country...” Likewise, the Decree Nº5176 of 1973, Article 1t states: “The Central Government, the Independent Institutions, the semiautonomous and the municipalities are empowered, so that according to their economic possibilities, they can allocate resources in their annual investment budgets to promote literature, the national arts, national monuments, and to acquire archaeological pieces...” The conception of cultural heritage, interest in consolidating the protection of the Costa Rican archaeological heritage, of contributing to the development of national archaeology and the existence of laws with legal voids for their safeguarding lead to the enacting of the National Heritage Act Nº 6703 in 1982, which in its Article 8 states: “Commerce and exports of archaeological objects by individuals and private or state institutions, is forbidden...” By then INS had conformed its collection of objects of the pre-Columbian era: around 7000 pieces of diverse materials such as jade, pottery, stone, gold, shell, wood, resin, bone and others. INS inaugurated the museum under the name “Archaeological Collection of the National Insurance Institute” on October 31st of 1977; later, in 1980 with agreement XI of Session 6556 of the valid Board of Directors, changed it to Jade Museum. In 1980, INS’ Board of Directors approved the regulation governing the administration and management of the Jade Museum, which pursues the following objectives:
  • Foster scientific study in the archaeologic field.
  • Preserve part of the archaeological and artistic heritage of the country.
  • Stimulate the artistic development of the Fine Arts.
  • Serve as a body for cultural outreach to the community from the Institute.
Before the impossibility of restructuring a lost context owing to non-scientific excavation methods, the Jade Museum has undertaken the task of promoting research projects with the purpose of knowing to the possible extent, the background of its collections by association with scientifically extracted objects. These investigations have ventured into fields such as the anthropological, archeological, geologic, artistic, and ethno-musical. The Jade Museum throughout its thirty eight years of operation has allowed thousands of visitors, national and foreign visiting the exhibition rooms, enjoying the opportunity to admire one of the richest institutional collections of America. The variety of its legacy, constituted by four collections in archaeology, art and ethnography, reflects one of the objectives of INS, that of generating a social contribution through the record, documentation and display of exhibitions. The cultural heritage under the custody of the museum has served as Costa Rican ambassador, forming part of international exhibitions in different cities of America, Europe and Asia for over a quarter of a century. The high quality of the art collection is reflected for example in the significant number of works of the most outstanding Costa Rican artists, representing different periods of the national Fine Arts production, which often have been borrowed for exhibition and investigation. Likewise, through the years the Jade Museum has facilitated its exhibition rooms, both for dissemination of the production of national and international artists, as for exhibitions related with diverse subjects such as history, sciences, technology and other matters related with human affairs.