Visit the Museums of Old San Juan


The typical visitor to Old San Juan visits the major "touristy" historical sites in the old city, including the forts (El Morro and San Cristobal), La Princesa, La Forteleza, and the Cathedral, to name a few. In fact, our 3-part walking tour will guide you past all of these places.

But there are a number of smaller museums in Old San Juan that are really enjoyable, and I think are definitely worth making time in your schedule to visit. Two that we really like are the National Gallery and the Museum of the Americas. You’ll find information on these, and many others, in the following article.

Many guide books and websites describe the Museo del Indio at Casa de los Dos Zaguanes (Museum of the Indian at the House of the Two Foyers) , Museum at the Instituto de Cultura Puerrtoiquena at the Asilo de Beneficencia (Museum at the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture at the Home for the Poor), Museo del Nino, and Casa Rosada. Those museums no longer exist.

Museo de las Americas (Museum of the Americas)

This museum houses a number of exhibits, some permanent, and some temporary. The permanent exhibits include artifacts and samples of the arts and crafts pertaining to daily life, things like clothes, tools, musical instruments, religious objects, etc. There is a room dedicated to Santos de Puerto Rico, and another on The African Heritage. Also featured is a wonderful special exhibit on the Indian in the Americas. The temporary exhibits change throughout the year. Bi-lingual.

Admission fee .

Open Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 9am-4pm, Saturday and Sunday 11am – 4pm .

Call 787-724-5052 or Facebook page for more info.

Located on the second floor of the El Cuartel Ballaja, which is just across from El Morro.

El Arsenal (The Arsenal)

This structure built in 1800, was a naval station and then home to the Spanish military following the Spanish-American War. Visitors will find a few galleries with paintings and decorative arts. The exhibits change throughout the year, and they do close between exhibits.

Admission fee to the museum varies with the exhibit.

Hours of operation vary based on the exhibit- usually Wed- Sun assume 9am – 5pm, closed from 12-1.

El Arsenal is located on Puntilla Street, behind the Customs House.

Casa Blanca (White House)

Casa Blanca was built in 1521 as the first "fort" in Old San Juan. This "strong-house" was lived in by the descendants of Ponce de Leon. It was used by the Spanish military, then later by the United States as a residence for military commanders until 1966. Today the mansion is a National Historic Monument. Part of the building has been refurnished with a valuable collection of furniture and decorative objects from the 16th -18th centuries. It depicts domestic life of a well-to-do family. One of the best parts of the facility is the large, cool gardens. It has many water features and lovely lush greens and beautiful views of the bay.

Admission $5 for house and tour ($3 for kids). Gardens are free to walk around.

The museum is open, sometimes with guided tours, Thursday-Saturday 9:00am to 12:00 and 1:00-4:00pm. The gardens are open 7 day a week 9am- 4:00pm.

Call 787-724-0700 ext. 1341. or 787-725-1454 for more info

Located at the west end of San Sebastian Street

Casa del Libro (House of the Book)

This museum contains a rare collection of early manuscripts and books (over 4000 works), some dating back to the 15th century. There are two royal mandates signed by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1493 concerning provisioning Columbus’ fleet for his second voyage. It also teaches about printing and book making.

Admission fee.

Open Tuesday – Saturday (except holidays) 11:00am to 5pm

Call 787-723-0354 for more info

Located on at the end of Calle Cristo, by the chapel. They also offer a 2 hr bookmaking workshop, so you can make a souvenir of your trip to PR! Contact them for more information.

Museo de San Juan (San Juan Museum)

Formerly known as Museo de Arte y Historia de San Juan (Museum of Art and History of San Juan), this building was built as a public market in 1855, and restored in 1979 as a cultural center. This museum has one wing that showcases the history of Puerto Rico. The other wing will house rotating exhibits. Beginning on December 15, 2007 the exhibit with give the history of the building as the Market Center in San Juan. Information is presented in Spanish, but a bi-lingual guide will help you interpret the pictures and information. Many concerts and festivals occur in the massive courtyard of this building through out the year.

Admission is free

Open Wed – Saturday 9:00am to 12:00pm and 1:00pm- 4:00pm and Sundays 10am – 5pm- note closed from 12noon to 1:00pm every day

Call 787-480-3530 or 787-480-3555 for more info

Located at 150 Norzagaray Street, facing the Atlantic Ocean, between the two forts.

Pablo Casals Museum

This museum showcases the life of this Spanish musician. The museum includes a collection of his manuscripts, memorabilia, photographs, his cello and a library of videotapes of concerts from the Festival Casals (that are played upon request). Bilingual placards provide information.

Admission fee

Open Tuesday – Saturday 9:30am to 4:30pm

Call 787-723-9185 for more info

new location- on the first level of the Cuartel Ballaja.

Museo de Felisa Rincon de Gautier (Museum of Feliza Rincon de Gautier)

More commonly referred to as the Museo de Dona Fela, this museum was the home of the first female mayor of San Juan. It is packed with photos, keys to various cities, and other memorabilia. There are a number of great dolls in her likeness around the upstairs rooms too (along with furniture and some of her outfits).

Admission is free

Open Monday – Friday 9:00am to 4:00pm

Located at 51 Calle de San Juan, just across from the San Juan Gate.

Closed -Galeria Nacional (National Gallery)

1/2016- This museum is currently closed

This museum, located in an old Dominican Convent that was built in the 16th century, contains a gallery of paintings from Puerto Rican masters such as Jose Campeche y Francisco Oller . There are a number of rooms of paintings and other works of art (paintings and decorative) from Puerto Rican artisans of the 18th – 21st centuries.

Admission fee .

Open Tuesday to Saturday 9:30am to 5:00pm, closed from 12noon -1pm for lunch.

Call 787-725-2670 for more info

Guided tours are sometimes available. Just ask when you get there.

Located in the old Convento de los Dominicos (Dominican Convent) at San Jose Plaza

Museo del Mar (Museum of the Sea)

This museum contains loads of info and models of ships and other mechanical devices used in sea travel- both old and current. Artifacts found underwater and from all sorts of ship travels. Collections of life rings, ships in bottles, navigation devices…. you name it- if it has to do with ocean travel from any period- it is here! And it is all bi-lingual!

there is an Admission fee per person

7 days a week 10am -5pm

Call (787) 463-4820 for more info o vΓ­a send email to

Located 360 San Francisco St.

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Closed! Casa de la Familia Puertorriquena del Siglo XIX y Museo de la Farmacia (House of the Puerto Rican Family and Pharmacy Museum)

House of the Family Museum

These two museums are located in the same building. It is one of the oldest buildings in Old San Juan, built in the 18th century. It depicts the usual set-up for a family run business, with the store being located beneath the living quarters of the family. The first floor houses a pharmacy museum, which is a reconstruction of an apothecary shop complete with bottles and scales. It is air conditioned. The upper floors are set up as the home as you may have seen it in the 19th century, complete with furniture and other household objects of an upper middle class home. Tours available in English and Spanish.

Admission is free

Call 787 724-0700 x3037 for more info

Located at 319 Calle Fortaleza, at the corner of Capilla Alley.

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