When you visit Machu Picchu, no one will tell you, but there is a secret museum. Or it might as well be a secret, because it seems no one knows about it. It's the missing museum for Machu Picchu. This is where you go to put the whole thing in context, to understand the people, and to hear the stories of the re-discovery and excavations. It's called the Museo de Sitio Manuel Chávez Ballón.
It's all the way down hill from the town. Walk across the bridge and watch for the tiny sign. Turn right.
Yes, there is also a botanic garden, but it's not like your average US botanic garden. It is a tropical rain forest. Leave time in your day to wander and look around.
We asked about this museum at the hotel desk, but they told us it wasn't worth seeing. We went anyway.
Should you go before or after your visit to the ruins? I thought that after was great. The photos and artifacts meant much more since I had just seen the actual site. My husband wished we had gone before, so we would have known more on our tour.