An awesome Machu Picchu experience

A thousand years before the term “place specificity” entered the historical lexicon of art, the Incas built expansive settlements that harmoniously fused architecture and the environment. The Peruvian highland people, who established themselves in the Cuzco Valley around 1000 AD, are recognized for their skill in engineering, especially for their ability to shape and fit stones to achieve naturally fortified sites.

The most formidable is undoubtedly Machu Picchu (“old peak” in Quechua), a citadel erected on a peak about 9,000 feet above sea level and one of the seven wonders of the world. Its panoramic views of the Andes and largely intact stone structures, the ultimate purpose of which remains a mystery, can now be experienced in virtual reality: Machu Picchu and the golden empires of Peru, an exhibition of nearly 200 ancient Peruvian artifacts and an immersive virtual reality “expedition,” opens Oct. 16 at the Boca Raton Museum in South Florida.

Front ornament of an 18-carat gold headdress depicting a feline head with a crescent headdress and two birds, Mochica, 1 AD – 800 AD.

Led by the Museo Larco de Lima and the Museo de Sitio Manuel Chávez Ballón in Aguas Calientes, many of the show’s objects have never been seen outside Peru, including a set of gold pieces that dominated the metal. And the taste of the Andes. by opulence on the screen.

Machu Picchu drone footage for the VR part of the exhibition was recorded last year, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the immensely popular tourist destination to close. Usually the ruins were overrun with people and suddenly they were completely empty, probably for the first time since their modern inauguration. The Boca Raton Museum configuration includes individual boxes with movement chairs and VR headphones (cleaned between uses, according to COVID security protocols).

Soon, visitors will be able to experience the majestic views of Machu Picchu using virtual reality headphones.
Sculptural jug depicting an anthropomorphic figure with the head and wings of a long-eared owl or owl, Mochica, 1 AD – 800 AD

The empty panoramas are imposing and sublime, inspiring a solemn contemplation. The collection on display, meanwhile, evokes the image of thriving civilizations throbbing with creative energy: elaborate pottery, ornaments, headdresses, utensils and more, decorative and functional objects from Inca and pre-Inca cultures such as the Nazca, Mochica, Lambayeque, Chimu and Chavin.

“Machu Picchu, built more than 600 years ago by the Incas as a mountain refuge for its rulers, speaks of the power of an empire that once covered a large strip of South America,” the museum’s director told Hyperallergic , Irvin Lippman. “In the Andean region, which began 5,000 years ago, lived one of the most politically and economically complex societies in South America. This exhibition tells its incredible story.

Detail of a ceremonial bowl of binary alloy (silver-copper) and ternary alloy (gold-silver-copper), Chimú, imperial period, 1300 AD-1532 AD

The Boca Raton Museum is the first stop on a world tour of the exhibition, organized by World Heritage Exhibitions in collaboration with the Peruvian Ministry of Culture and the Inkaterra Association, with future locations yet to be determined. His debut in Florida can be especially significant for the local Latinx community.

“Having this premiere here speaks to the role the museum plays in our diverse and rapidly growing community in South Florida, where we have the largest population of Peruvian heritage people in the United States,” Lippman said. (Most Peruvian-Americans in the state, he notes, live in Miami, about an hour’s drive from Boca Raton).

Machu Picchu and the golden empires of Peru operates until March 6, 2022 at the Boca Raton Museum (501 Plaza Real, Boca Raton, FL).

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