During my trip many advised me to avoid Chile from various reasons: it`s too expensive, there`s nothing to see there, it`s not “South American” enough, there`s not much going on there and the food tastes awful.
However, I decided to go with my gut and I stayed for three months in Santiago. The time spent there proved that all the rumors were untrue, except for the one about the prices. This is what determined me to use the future posts as an opportunity to go back through the things that made me fall in love with the city in the first place. In the end, how could a city located at the foothills of the Andes be dull?
From an architect`s point of view, I can say that Santiago is definitely a captivating place from which all could learn some valuable lessons. I believe that the museums are one of the most memorable assets of this city. For those who still think that there`s nothing to do here, consider that the museums listed below are just a few of the many options the city has to offer.
For more information, check this webpage:
1. Gabriela Mistral Center
Opened in 2010, this cultural center defines itself as a center for the arts, for culture and for people. Also, it aims to be a meeting point between audiences and creators and it hosts events related to theater, choreography, music, visual arts and cinematography.
Occupying a surface of about 22.000 square meters, the center includes a library, a recording studio, a space for temporary exhibitions and many classrooms for theater, dance and music.
What stroke me was the fact that people were actually using this space. And I`m not referring to the tourists, I`m talking about the locals who come here to interact in the opened squares or in the main lobby and about the teens who practice their choreography outside.
The center publishes a monthly brochure from which you can find everything about the events taking place; ask for it at the info point.
The main square is opened to the public, becoming a point for meeting and interaction.
2. Museum of Memory and Human Rights – FREE access
The museum commemorates and honors the victim of the military dictatorship that occurred between 1973 and 1990, which led to 3000 victims and 200.000 forced into exile.
This is a good opportunity to learn about Chilean history and culture. Even today the society is still traumatized by the past events and knowing more about the recent history helps one understand more about the people and their lifestyle. As one might expect, the pictures and testimonies are quite shocking.
3. Pre-Columbian Art Museum – FREE access on Sundays
Located in the center of the city, the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art is a great way to learn about the history and culture of the indigenous tribes in the Americas. Although in some South American the indigenous heritage is ignored and many artifacts have been lost or destroyed, Chile takes pride in this unique collection that speaks about their ancestors.
It is fascinating to visit this museums as it tells the stories of cultures very different from ours with day to day objects, with musical instruments or objects used in rituals and burials.
This artifact reflects the ingenuity on the Inca civilization – as they did not discover writing, this was the most efficient method of counting their resources. Each knot represents a unit for a natural resource (for example 1 knot stands for 100 cows) and the color of the thread represents the resource (for example yellow thread for corn plantation).
4. Matucana100 Cultural Center
Located close to the Quinta Normal Park, this cultural center is dedicated to theater, music, dance, visual arts and cinema. It defines a space for reflection, debate and education.
5. The National Museum of Fine Arts – FREE access
Located in a beautiful historical building, the museum offers a rich collection of paintings and sculptures. Check the temporary exhibitions, there`s always something worth seeing.
6. Museum of Contemporary Art (Parque Forestal)
Many locals don`t know that right behind the Fine Arts Museum you can find the MAC that always hosts interesting and many times interactive exhibits. Expect to find an interactive installation in the main lobby, which will allow you to play and experiment.
7. Museum of Contemporary Art (Quinta Normal) – FREE on Sundays
The Quinta Normal is the equivalent of the Museum Quarters in Wien. You can find here the MAC, the Natural History Museum, the M100 and the Museum of Memory. If you arrive here on a Sunday you can enter for free to all these museums and you can enjoy the park that is particularly lively during those days.
It is interesting that some Chilean artists are working inside the museum – during some days you can watch them while they are working and even talk to them. Their work is a bit scary, but fascinating.
More info here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cristobal_Le%C3%B3n_%26_Joaqu%C3%ADn_Coci%C3%B1a
8. Sculpture Park – FREE access
While walking along the Mapocho river from Bellavista you`ll find a charming park with contemporary sculptures.
9. The National History Museum – FREE access on Sundays
Located in the heart of Santiago, in Plaza de Armas, the museum presents the country`s history.
10. The National Museum of Natural History – FREE access on Sundays
Although the building is beautiful, the collection is not that impressive, aside from a few exhibits.
As you may have realized by now, the cultural life in Santiago is very intense – basically there`s always something worth seeing. And, of course, the same goes for the underground culture, of which I will talk in later posts.