Remember Me: Messages from the Costa Rican National Museum’s Cells

Jordan Dobrowski is a student at Augustana College and an ISA Featured Blogger. Jordan is currently studying abroad with ISA and participating in service-learning with ISA Service-Learning in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Museo Nacional 057 Recuerdo
“I remember Rafael Jiménez Jiménez, Sargent of Platoon N of the Buenavista Battalion – December 10th 1948”

Graffiti has always been an obsession of mine. There’s a sort of resourcefulness and a certain passion that is displayed in various types that just screams the human need to be heard, to be remembered and to express oneself. Perhaps this is why, in places where expression is regulated or suppressed, messages spring up like weeds in a garden.

Museo Nacional 061 cell
A Former Military Cell Under the National Museum

In 1948, Costa Rica abolished its army and designated El Cuartel Bellavista or “Fort Beautiful View” to become the new National Museum of Costa Rica, a remarkable feat that still earns the nation positive attention from the rest of the world. Nevertheless, it took until 1949 for this dream to be realized. In the following image, you can see testament to that delay.

Museo Nacional 058 enero
“Today [is] the 4th of January, 1949.”

Today, just a floor above the cells where these images were taken, sits an array of exhibits that seek to preserve history all the while encouraging the imaginations of the coming generations. During our visit we saw everything from Pre-Colombian spheres to intricate golden suns to a physical “brainstorm” of ideas for a healthier planet. Just to enter the plaza, visitors get to pass through a part of the old fort that has been converted into a butterfly garden.

Museo Nacional 048 seating
A ‘Brainstorm’

What a beautiful transformation of that space. What an effective revolutionization of the messages shared within the building.

Museo Nacional 008 garden
Inside the Butterfly Garden

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