NOV 24, 2017 – APR 15, 2018
Searching for Traces in the Desert

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Nasca – Museo Rietberg de Zúrich

Del 24 de noviembre de 2017 hasta el 15 de abril de 2018

El Museo Rietberg de Zúrich presenta “NASCA”, la más grande exposición dedicada a esta fascinante y enigmática cultura prehispánica. Esta importante exhibición, que narra la historia de los antiguos peruanos que poblaron la cuenca del Río Grande de Nazca hace dos mil años, estará abierta al público desde el 24 de octubre de 2017 hasta el 15 de abril de 2018 en las salas temporales del museo.

Desde su descubrimiento a inicios del siglo XX, Nasca ha deslumbrado al mundo por su llamativa cerámica y sus finos tejidos, tecnología hidráulica –galerías subterráneas conocidas como puquios- así como por sus impresionantes geoglifos, enormes dibujos plasmados sobre las pampas, cuya naturaleza y función sigue siendo materia de grandes debates.

Bajo la curaduría de Cecilia Pardo (MALI) y Peter Fux (Museo Rietberg), esta muestra permitirá a los visitantes al museo tener una experiencia única al conocer por primera vez una selección representativa de 300 piezas, que incluyen ceramios, tejidos y objetos en metal, que serán presentados junto a novedosos recursos tecnológicos como videos, proyecciones, animaciones, composiciones musicales, mapping y simulación en 3D.

PREVIEW (English)

In the southern Peruvian desert, one of the world’s greatest archaeological mysteries is waiting to be solved: the so-called Nasca Lines of the Nasca culture (ca. 200 BC–650 AD), a series of enormous drawings in the sand.

Archaeologists who excavated graves there found colourful textiles of the fi nest quality, ceramic vessels portraying mysterious hybrid beings, and gold masks. ‘NASCA. PERU – Searching for Traces in the Desert’ illuminates the daily life of the Nasca, the rituals surrounding the drawings in the sand, and the world of the gods in Nasca culture.

The exhibition will be curated in conjunction with the Museo de Arte de Lima in cooperation with the Peruvian Ministry of Culture and will be shown first in Lima (June–Oct 2017), then in Zurich, later travelling to the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn (Mai–Sep 2018).

VORSCHAU (Deutsch)

In der Wüste des südlichen Perus wartet eines der grössten Archäologie-Rätsel auf seine Entschlüsselung: die riesigen Bodenzeichnungen der Nasca-Kultur (ca. 200 v. Chr. – 650 n. Chr.).

Aus den Gräbern brachten die Archäologen farbenprächtige und feinste Textilien sowie Keramikgefässe mit Darstellungen rätselhafter Mischwesen und auch Goldmasken ans Licht. «NASCA. PERU – Auf Spurensuche in der Wüste» beleuchtet das tägliche Leben, die Rituale rund um die Bodenzeichnungen und die Götterwelt der Nasca-Kultur.

Die Ausstellung wird vom Museo de Arte de Lima (MALI) und dem Museum Rietberg gemeinsam kuratiert, in enger Kooperation mit dem Kulturministerium Perus und der Kommission für Archäologie Aussereuropäischer Kulturen (KAAK) des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts. Nach Lima (Juni–Okt 2017) und Zürich wird die Ausstellung auch in der Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn (Mai–Sep 2018) gezeigt.

APERÇU (Français)

Dans le désert qui s’étend au sud du Pérou, l’un des plus grands mystères archéologiques attend d’être résolu: les gigantesques géoglyphes de la civilisation Nasca (vers 200 av. J.-C.–650 apr. J.-C.).

Dans les tombeaux, les archéologues ont découvert des textiles d’une grande fi – nesse aux couleurs chatoyantes ainsi que des récipients en céramique ornés de représentations de mystérieuses créatures hybrides, mais aussi des masques en or. «NASCA. PEROU – A la recherche de traces dans le désert» nous fait découvrir la vie quotidienne, les rituels liés aux géoglyphes et les divinités de la civilisation Nasca.

L’exposition est organisée en collaboration avec le Museo de Arte de Lima et le Ministère de la Culture péruvien. Après Lima (juin–oct. 2017) et Zurich, elle sera également présentée à la Bundeskunsthalle de Bonn (mai–sept. 2018).

NASCA. PERU – Searching for Traces in the Desert
24 November 2017 – 15 April 2018

On 24 November 2017 probably the most comprehensive exhibition on the fascinating as well as mysterious Nasca culture ever to be seen in Europe opens at the Museum Rietberg Zurich. NASCA. PERU – Searching for Traces in the Desert whisks visitors away to the southern part of the Andes where the Nasca culture (ca. ca. 200 BC – AD 650) once flourished. On the desert ground of this region in Peru the Nasca left behind one of the greatest puzzles ever encountered by archaeologists: large geoglyphs, better known as the Nasca Lines. Recent archaeological findings tell of a lost culture full of mysterious rituals, but also of a vibrant tradition of art and music and of a life under extreme conditions in one the most arid places on earth. On show are ceramic vessels bearing enigmatic drawings, gold masks, musical instruments, and colourful textiles. All the exhibits are from Peruvian collections, many of them on international display for the first time.

The show is a collaboration between Museo de Arte de Lima and the Museum Rietberg, in cooperation with the Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bonn, and involving the participation of leading Nacca archaeologists from across the world. The show is supported by the Schweizerisch-Lichtensteinische Stiftung für archäologische Forschungen im Ausland (SLSA), the Kommission für Archäologie Aussereuropäischer Kulturen (KAAK, Bonn) of the German Archaeological Institute (DAI), and the AVINA Foundation. NASCA. PERU – Searching for Traces is curated by Cecilia Pardo, curator of collections at Museo de Arte de Lima, and Peter Fux, curator for America at Museum Rietberg, who has first-hand knowledge of the Nasca region from the archaeological excavations he conducted there.

Who were the Nasca? How did they live? Where did the Nasca culture come from, where did it go?

The exhibition attempts to describe the Nasca culture as extensively and detailed as possible, including its social system, its history and above all its art. The  approximately two hundred exhibits have an exciting story to tell about everyday life in the fertile valleys between the high ranges of the Andes in the east and the desert off the Pacific coast. It is here, in one of the most arid places on earth, that the Nasca created their famous geoglyphs. Equally fascinating is the immensely colourful pictorial language they used to decorate their ceramics and textiles. A captivating array of musical instruments, colourful cloths, and valuable grave goods including gold masks and ceramic vessels bearing vibrant and enigmatic designs await visitors to the show.

All the exhibits are from Peruvian collections and museums, some of them from recent archaeological excavations.

Nasca Adventure

For archaeologists as well as for visitors to the exhibition, the Nasca culture holds a very special adventure. After the first human groups arrived in America – probably between 18,000 and 14,000 BC when the Asian and American continents were still connected by a land bridge across the Bering Strait (the water still being locked in the glaziers during the ice age) – many new cultures evolved in America independently of the cultures of Eurasia. The Nasca represent a very special and interesting case: they had no system of writing in the modern sense of the term but relied instead on a rich pictorial language, which they applied to their ceramics and textiles and, above all, to the desert ground in the form of geoglyphs. Over the course of the centuries they developed a highly complex culture with a ritual system which, in many ways, appears alien to us but also with one of the most elaborate art traditions known to the archaeological world. There is probably no pre-Hispanic culture with a more vibrant and colourful tradition of ceramics and textiles than the Nasca, which ranks among the world’s most artistic.

The Geoglyphs

The geoglyphs of the Nasca Plateau on Peru’s southern coast are among the most extraordinary pre-Hispanic legacies. Covering an area of more than 500 square kilometres the stony desert floor between the valleys at the foot of the Andes was transformed by way of extensive earth drawings cut into the ground of the plateaus, the so-called pampas, as well as the adjacent slopes and hills. Today these drawings are referred to as geoglyphs, literally “earth carvings”. Where the markings have not been destroyed by humans, they have survived to this day owing to the favourable climatic conditions. No one knows exactly how many geoglyphs the Nasca Plateau holds; their number goes into the thousands. One small group has attracted special attention because it features clearly recognizable animals (among others, hummingbird, pelican, monkey, dog, spider, lizard, and whale) and human-like figures. Today these figurative geoglyphs are among the main tourist attractions in the area, with tour operators from the nearby town of Nasca offering sightseeing flights over the pampas. More numerous are the geometrical geoglyphs; they vary in complexity from simple lines to bounded shapes. Some of them are huge; the largest trapezoid measures 1.9 kilometres in length.

The desert plateaus situated between the fertile valleys, where humans dwell, and the mountain ranges, where the gods reside, form a kind of intermediate zone, an ideal place for establishing contact with supernatural forces. It represents a ritual space, and it is here where one finds the geoglyphs. Based on archaeological research, scholars are today convinced that the earth drawings were not made for looking at, but for pacing off. People moved along them, in other words, the images served as ritual paths. They performed the rituals to music – no other Andean culture left behind more musical instruments than the Nasca – and with the aid of psychoactive substances. The drawings’ geometrical forms helped to create a rhythmic experience.

Nasca 2.0

Apart from the exhibits, the show presents the desert landscape in form of projections on to large, relief-style terrain models. The geoglyphs were recorded especially for the exhibition with the aid of drones. The result is a set of highly impressive images. Visitors can “fly over” the landscape using special 3D glasses, thus getting the same view of the geoglyphs as an ancient Nasca priest with the aid of his inner eye.

Download of free visuals for coverage of the exhibition at

Nasca pictures

For more visual material and information please contact :

salaction public relations GmbH, Hamburg
Daniela Bühe, Jan Michael Dix
Tel. +49 40 226 58 316,

Media contact Museum Rietberg Zurich:
Elena DelCarlo, Alain Suter, Communications
Tel. +41 (0)44 415 31 34

logos - Nasca

Opening times

Nov 24, 2017 – Apr 15, 2018 Monday Closed
Tuesday 10 am – 5 pm
Wednesday 10 am – 8 pm
Thursday 10 am – 5 pm
Public holidays 2017 24 December 10 am – 5 pm
25 December closed
26 December 10 am – 5 pm
31 December
1 January
2 January

Admission fees

Admission Special exhibition, incl. collection 

  • CHF 18 / 14 (reduced)
  • CHF 4 for holders of the ZürichCARD

Collection CHF 14 / 12 (reduced)

Under 16 free admission
Crafts studio Sun 11 am−4 pm
Internet Free WLAN in the Café

Getting there

Please use public transportation as there are no public parking spaces by the Museum. Disabled parking available. The Museum is disabled accessible.

On the corner Grütlistrasse/Gablerstrasse there is a loading and unloading area for private buses.

Directions by public transportation

  • Tram no. 7 (direction Wollishofen) to the “Museum Rietberg” stop (approx. 12 minutes from Zurich main station).
  • Train to the Enge train station, then 10 minutes by foot
  • Bus no. 72 (direction Morgental) to the “Hügelstrasse” stop, then 6 minutes by foot

Public transportation schedule to “Zürich, Museum Rietberg” »


Gablerstrasse 15
8002 Zürich

Tel. +41 44 415 31 31

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