Museo Larco: Moche Pottery

The Museo Larco in Lima, Peru, has an extensive collection of Moche pottery. Moche pottery, made in what is now Peru from about 150-800 AD, is fantastically creative and well worth exploring.

Museo Larco – Lima, Peru

Moche potters used molds extensively to create vessels in the shapes of animals, vegetables & plant forms, faces, and humans engaged in a variety of activities, perhaps most famously, sexual activity.

Due to the pandemic, Museo Larco is closed. The museum does, however, have two virtual exhibitions covering portions of their collection: selected items from the permanent collection, and a tour of the “erotic room“. In both virtual exhibits, you move through internal museum spaces by clicking on circles, and from that circle you can rotate your view 360 degrees as well as zoom in to some extent.

To be candid, the image quality is not great, and you can only zoom in so far. But the virtual exhibitions give you a sense of the museum itself and the broad range of Moche ceramics.

Museo Larco has digitized its entire collection and it is available online to the public. There is a search page, but unfortunately I found several key words (in English and Spanish) didn’t work well. I ended up just using “Moche.” Since there are so many items in the collection, scrolling through, page after page, isn’t very efficient. When you get to a particular object, the images are again adequate but not amazing. Still, I commend the museum for putting its entire collection online.

Easier to use, although undoubtedly less comprehensive, are resources offered through the Google Arts and Culture website. That site offers two “stories” and several “collections.” One story is “Death in Ancient Peru” and provides some larger context on the theme will examples of ceramics and textiles from the Museo Larco collection.

The Google Arts and Culture collections feature more examples of the museum collection, plus detailed information on each piece – essentially catalog information with text descriptions (in Spanish and English), dimensions, provenance, etc. The site also allows the viewer to zoom into the image which is very nice.

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