The other equator museum is called “Ciudad Mitad del Mundo“, which translates to middle of the world, is an impressive monument to the European explorers that mapped the equator mixed with the natural and cultural history of Ecuador with some vigorous economic enterprise thrown in for good measure. The center of this large complex is marked by a huge monolithic tower that houses the main ethnographic museum.
At the top of the tower is a 360 degree observation deck, which affords really nice views of the complex and some surrounding areas.
There are a few physics experiments you can do inside the museum.
There are multiple displays detailing the geographical location, culture and history of the many disparate indigenous peoples living in the different parts of the country, from the mountainous regions to the Amazon.
Colonial history, agriculture, and other interesting aspects of nature in Ecuador are also presented to guests as they navigate the internal spiraling staircase from the tower observation deck down to the ground floor exit.
The rest of the complex houses other mini-museum buildings, called pavilions, which are focused on the French cartographer team who initially mapped the equator on this spot, Spanish rule and legacy in Ecuador, as well as one devoted to the history of the city of Quito. There’s also a planetarium which has a movie, only presented in Spanish, that we elected to skip once we learned it was designed for the multiple school trips that evidently visit daily, not us.
There are these wonderful hummingbird benches all over the place, with clever arched backs to shield the sun or rain.
Interspersed among all this are many smaller buildings housing souvenir, indigenous art and clothing shops and restaurants. This was the only time on our trip that we were aggressively called out to and/or approached by people trying to get us to buy their goods or eat in their restaurants. It was uncomfortable and awkward for both of us, so much so that we even changed course to avoid one particularly aggressive restaurant guy waving a menu.
That unpleasantness aside, the museum was interesting and really informative. My only regret is that we didn’t have enough time to wander around more because our guide was coming to pick us up at a pre-arranged time. You should plan at least 2.5 hours here, which would include time for lunch.