Tenerife's Top 10 Museums
Tenerife's Top 10 Museums
Museum of Man and Nature
The largest and best of all Tenerife's museums, the Museum of Man and Nature is really a history of the entire Canarian Archipelago, from its explosive birth to the present day. Natural history, marine life, climatic conditions, social and economic history are all covered in mind blowing detail but the exhibits everyone loves best are the mummified remains of Tenerife's original inhabitants, the Guanche. I wonder if we'd all like them as much if the lights went out while we there...
I love museums that are not really like museums at all, and the Anthropology Museum in Valle de Guerra is one of those. Filled with items from everyday life in days of Canarian yore such as tea chests, traditional costumes and musical instruments, the museum is actually a beautifully restored Canarian mansion complete with original kitchen, wine press and gorgeous gardens.
Museum of Science and the Cosmos
You won't find a single dusty exhibit or stuffed bird in here, and instead of being told off if you touch anything, you're positively encouraged to run amok in the place. Exhibits that allow you to lift a car with your little finger, a 3D tour of the universe, a space pod and a mirror maze are just some of the many ways in which the secrets of the cosmos are revealed.
Housed inside a working barracks which means you have to show your passport to get in, the Military Museum in Santa Cruz is a real treasure trove of military artefacts from flags to uniforms and weapons to tanks. There's a cracking scale model of Nelson's failed attack on Santa Cruz in which he lost his right arm, complete with staged lighting, sound effects and a narration in English.
Now this is my kind of a museum. A history of Tenerife's wine growing and export industry from its heyday when the Bard himself received a barrel of malmsey wine as part of his annual stipend, to today's re-burgeoning markets. With a tasting room, fine restaurant and shop, you get a real taste for Tenerife's wine history.
This may not be one of the best equipped museums in Tenerife, nor will it take you very long to get around it but the wonderful little house in which it resides is worth the visit alone. With all the headroom of a Hobbit's home, there are old family photos, rudimentary household items and a strange little mummified Guanche section amongst the shiny, crooked floor boards.
Museum of Fine Arts
One for the art lovers, the Belles Artes is housed in a stunning 1920s building and has 14 rooms of art from contemporary, temporary exhibitions to its permanent collection featuring Flemish and Baroque masters and works by the greatest Canarian artists including Oscar Dominguez.
There's no denying that Masca is a very special place to visit, tucked away as it is into the folds of the Teno Mountains and so isolated from the rest of the island. But imagine how hard it must have been to eke a living from its steep terraces without the aid of machinery...actually you don't have to imagine at all because the little museum lays it all out for you. Life in an isolated rural community, preserved in a rustic beaut of a house.
Hand thrown pottery in the hills above Santiago del Teide where the tradition is being kept alive by the Cha Domitila Collective. Pots of character from the 17th and 18th century sit alongside a brief history of the industry which was the domain of the women of the area. You can watch the potter at work and pick up a ceramic souvenir while helping to preserve a rural tradition.
Where better to house Tenerife's most important history museum than in the 16th century former home of Genoese Conquistadores in the UNESCO centre of La Laguna? The political, social, economic and cultural history of Tenerife from the 15th to the 20th century are housed in a maze of rooms centred around a courtyard in the charismatic former capital of the island.