ABOVE: 1939 Lahti 20mm anti-tank cannon, converted to .50 BMG, mounted on FN30 tripod. Note in the inset, how the magazine has been shortened to feed the .50 caliber round.
Bienvenidos al Museo Militar
Construido en lo que alguna vez fue la casa del Prócer Antonio Ricaurte, es un Museo Histórico en donde a través de la labor de las Fuerzas Militares, de su armamento y elementos de dotación se enseña sobre la Independencia, la libertad y la conservación de la democracia de nuestro país.
En sus ocho salas y dos patios el visitante podrá sumergirse en la Historia Militar y ser partícipe de su construcción en el día a día, y a su vez convertirse en multiplicador de conocimiento para las nuevas generaciones.
Colombia has a history rich in both cultural and military events. These are frequently inseparable, so a museum’s job is complicated by the need to wind the threads of both histories into their displays.
The museum was founded on August 6, 1982, with military weapons and equipment of the former Museum of Weapons of the Military Cadet School Jose Maria Cordoba. In the eight showrooms and two courtyards are the most representative pieces of the Military Forces of Colombia: the Army, the Navy and the Air Force.
There are many older artifacts in the Military Museum of Colombia, but they tend to be in the modern period (after the invention of firearms). This is not a display of weapons from the indigenous period. Europeans came to the area in 1499 with the Spanish explorers. There are excellent and very thorough displays of the development of military handguns and ammunition in use in Colombia, but the stars of the show are the machine guns and cannon. There are two Gatlings on display, as well as other early machine guns such as an 1895 Colt “Potato Digger” and a brass Maxim from Vickers Sons & Maxim.
One of the most interesting aspects of the museum is the improvised and adapted weapons of the La Violencia (The Violence) period in the late 1940s through the mid-1950s. Colombia was one of the USA’s staunch allies in the Korean War, but at home there was a lot of action as well. Many of the photos shown with this article are of homemade or adapted weapons from that fighting. This author’s favorite is the Lahti 1939 20mm anti-tank cannon that has been adapted to fire .50 BMG cartridges (12.7x99mm). This conversion has been attempted many times by recreational shooters in the United States, but this example in the museum is born of the necessities of combat.
Getting to the museum is fairly easy, and once your taxi drops you there, it’s easy to navigate the displays. The museum is housed in a beautiful older building that is restored and fits into the local facades very nicely. There have been recent renovations which are bringing the appearance of the display areas to a more modern and professional level, and the hard work is paying off. The building has a significant historical interest, as this was the home of the family of the Colombian hero Antonio Ricaurte, a courageous and brave captain who offered his life at the orders of Simón Bolivar in the Hacienda de San Mateo (Venezuela).
SADJ also suggests getting a map and setting up a walking tour of the area down to the main square and sampling the street food. There are dangers to visitors to Colombia, as there are in any area where there is some active conflict. It is best to consult your embassy and perhaps hire a driver and guide from your hotel to stay safe.
And please, don’t forget to make a donation to the museum fund on the way out, museums like this one can only share the history and artifacts with future visitors if they have your support.
Y por favor, no se olvide de hacer una donación al fondo de museo en la salida, museos como éste sólo pueden compartir la historia y los artefactos con los futuros visitantes si tienen su apoyo.
Hours: Tuesday-Friday 0900-1600, Weekends 1000-1600
Address: Calle 10 #4-92, Bogotá D.C.
Tel: +57 281-2548