This museum in the foothills of the Andes Mountains features an unexpected triumvirate of physics, folklore, and culture.
The Intiñan Solar Museum proudly advertises itself as the home of the “true” equator. Located a short way from the “official” equatorial monument, the museum is bisected by a line of red paint which marks what proprietors claim is the unofficial-official site of the middle of the world. GPS tests come back with mixed results, and the rocky surroundings make accurate readings difficult to obtain, but you’re close. Very close.
A museum guide conducts half-hour-long tours around the premises, stopping occasionally at life-size dioramas depicting Ecuadorian daily life. The tour offers a pre-fixed sampling of native culture, peppered with the occasional interactive demonstration. The central focus of the museum is a totem pole surrounded by several stations, each designed to test the unique physical forces at work in the equatorial region. Some are clearly parlor tricks, but others are – at the very least – appreciable demonstrations of physics. Of course, if ethnographic jargon and science experiments aren’t for you, there’s the blow-dart range, pickled snakes, and “genuine shrunken head” to look forward to.
The entire site can be seen in under an hour, and is appropriate for all ages.