It is hard to imagine the shock waves that spread through Europe when Christopher Columbus stumbled on a “new” and previously unimagined world in 1492. This earnest museum draws on its significant holdings of objects from scientific research trips and archaeological digs to present a picture of the European interaction with the Americas. Exhibits re-create a “cabinet of curiosities” similar to the one prized by Carlos III, and it’s easy to imagine how exciting it would have been to see a beautiful Mayan stone carving or golden funerary figure from Colombia for the first time. But the museum uses its holdings to try to understand and record the rich cultures altered forever by contact with Europeans. It also deals with the exploration of the New World (the progression of knowledge as captured on maps is fascinating) and the life of Spanish colonists there.