The Cesar Estrella Taino Museum is a must visit when you want to have a first hand experience, VIP front seat to Taino culture. It has an extensive collection of archaeological pieces depicting the life of the DR original inhabitants way before the arrival of the Galeones fleet (Spanish ships) in 1492 (see La Isabela).

A True Puerto Plata Taino Museum

The house-museum is located in the Guananico municipality, Puerto Plata, whose collection offers the most interesting sample of the colonial and neocolonial eras. The Exhibit is intended to expose a reconstruction and explanation of the indigenous societies that were on the island, ranging from pre-ceramic to Taino, a culture that was dominant in the time of the conquerors.

PHOTO GALLERY: CESAR ESTRELLA TAINO MUSEUM

All the pieces in the museum are original, collected over decades all around the Dominican Republic. Due to the nature of certain materials, the Taino musical instruments exhibited in the museum are replicas, according to César Estrella Bruzzo, who is a doctor and a self-made archaeologist, founder of the cultural space that he has built since 1960.

A tribute to the Taíno heritage from Guananico
Part of what is gratifying about finding this type of cultural destination in municipalities is that, usually, you are facing one of the few in the area. According to data published by the “Museums in the Dominican Republic” edition, 66.66% of museum entities are concentrated in the National District. Of the 31 provincial head municipalities, only 32% have museums.

In the case of this institution, all its organization, monitoring, coordination and advice comes from the Guananico Municipal Community Heritage Unit (UMPC), an organization that serves as a link between the three tourist destinations in the municipality: the aforementioned museum , Hacienda Cufa and the Typical Merengue of Rincón, as explained by Gregorio Rojas, coordinator of the unit.

Beginnings of the collection
The collection is made up of pieces that are more than 50 years old in the collection process, according to Rojas. In 1960 Estrella Bruzzo began the task of collecting objects and contributing as a property, the house of his late father Octaviano Estrella Madera, who was the first doctor in Guananico.

He points out that this house is more than 80 years old and preserves elements of the Victorian style, which was typical of the 19th and 20th centuries in the country. In it you can find various personal objects and bones of the first inhabitants of the island, as well as the Taino pottery of the town that Columbus found upon his arrival in the 15th century.

Taino Chiefdoms in Hispaniola
Chiefdom distribution in the island of Hispaniola

Since this house was not built for museum purposes, they have a small storage for more pieces, because they no longer fit in the available display areas. It has, among other items: mahogany furniture, precious wood endemic to the Caribbean, several family heirlooms; a bronze cannon, rescued from the waters of the Samana Bay, and several Spanish sabers, which were used in the War of Restoration; plus some old firearms.

Some Unique Discoveries
One of the pieces that Estrella Bruzzo values most is one that he found during his years traveling the island looking for items and objects for his museum, specially a shark tooth that he searched for two years. He describes the fish as a gigantic shark called Megalodon (Carcharocles megalodon) a species of shark that lived during the Miocene and Pliocene epochs (23.03 million to 2.58 million years ago).

Ancient Shark called megalodon

A collection of Megalodon teeth.
Megalodon teeth on display at the Taino Museum.

Thanks to decades of research, the collection on display today is considerably larger than the original concept of the museum he had in mind. Of the pieces displayed there, several have participated in international exhibitions and are a point of reference for archaeologists and other scientific researchers.

Organizing a Tour 

If you need help to arrange a tour to La Isabela and the Taino Museum you can drive there or contact us. It takes the best part of a day departing around 8:00 or 9:00am to return about 2pm or so to enjoy the best of the Taino experience in these two locations. We can help with a mini van and a bilingual tour guide translator. Nearby Maimon seafood restaurants can be the final stop for a perfect day out.

Various stone sculpted taino heads
Taino head sculptures

Museo Taino Cesar Estrella
Guananico Puerto Plata DR 57000
Tel. (809) 980-8870 (by appointment)