Housed in what used to be the Chapel of San Juan de Mata is the Museo Eclesiástico de Sucre (Ecclesiastical museum), often referred to as the Museo Catedralicio (Cathedral Museum).
The museum is a 10 room religious museum adjoining the Catedral Metropolitana. It showcases many of Sucre’s most important religious sculptures, paintings and artefacts. The Ecclesiastical Museum is also connected to, and permits access to, the Chapel of the Virgin of Guadalupe and the gem-encrusted depiction of the virgin.
The museum was founded by Bishop Pierini in 1938, and in 1945 significantly enhanced by Bishop Victor Arrien with artwork from the cathedral. Later Bishop Julio Garcia Quintanilla further expanded the collection with pieces from various churches and parishes of the Archdiocese.
The museum is divided into 6 main rooms, and a gallery of 4 smaller rooms.
The main rooms comprising the museum are:
A room providing an introduction the museum and its history.
This room exhibits liturgical artifacts such as clerical clothing (chasubles) which belonged to the bishops, archbishops and dignitaries of the Church of La Plata in the 18th and 19th centuries. The room also exhibits a number of paintings and objects made of gold.
Formerly part of the Chapel of the Virgin of Guadalupe, this room houses a range of ornaments, paintings and gold-work.
The custodians’ room contains a number of chalices, including one gifted by the city’s eponymous hero, Antonio Jose de Sucre. The room also shows off a set of Episcopalian rings and a number of oil paintings on canvas and copper.
In this room you’ll find the artwork of the Jesuit Brother Bernardo Bitti who belonged to (what is now) Sucre’s San Miguel church.
Today converted into a museum, the chapel room displays sacred relics including a replica of the Shroud of Turin, sculptures in wood and agave, and paintings on canvas and copper.
The museum’s gallery consists of the following four rooms:
This room houses Flemish paintings by artists such as Guillermo Forchaudt, with works done in oil on copper. There is also an important work by Wilhem Key done in oil on wood.
Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the room contains notable depictions including the Virgin of Popolo, the Virgin of Guadalupe (from both Mexico and Chuquisaca), the Coronation of the Virgin, two Byzantine works, and the Face of the Virgin.
A collection of works by local artists such as Melchor Perez de Holguin, Francisco Zurbaran, and Nicolas Ecoz. There is also a 17th century Gregorian song book on display.
An exhibit of furniture with mother-of-perl detailing, from the missions of Moxos and Chiquitos.
Entry to the Museum costs 20Bs for foreigners and 15Bs for Bolivian nationals.
Visits are by guided tour only, tours leaving once enough people have gathered. The tour takes about 1 hour. Photography is not permitted.