A museum route in Santiago de Chile

Francisca Pizarro | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Santiago de Chile *is the capital of the country, and as such, it has everything you could think of! Endless activities, delicious food (for everyone's taste), and many other things! In this article, I want to give you an overview of the museums* in the city! As a museum fan myself, I hope to motivate you to visit some of them when in Chile!**

Chilean Museum of Pre-columbian Art

The Chilean Museum of Pre-columbian Art is a must if you are in Santiago. It has one of the most complete collections of pre-Columbian art in the world, and it all started with a family collection. Sergio Larraín, a local architect, owned an extensive collection of pre-Columbian objects relevant to the Chilean history. Having this in mind, he started searching for support to donate his collection so that it would be preserved, exhibited, and made bigger. Finally, this idea was realized with the joint efforts of the Municipality of Santiago and the Foundation of the Larraín-Echeñique Family (named in honor of the Larrain's family, so it would be clear that his heirs donated the objects and not only himself). The idea behind the museum is to take care, study the pre-Columbian artifacts, and of course, bring this part of history closer to people.  

The first thing I recommend you notice is the beautiful architecture of the museum! It used to be the Palace of the Royal Customs of Santiago, so it is a historical construction with a modern twist on the inside. Once you are inside, search for the permanent exhibition of the museum, which consists of approximately 5000 pieces, organized by geography or topic. I will not tell you much more, so you can discover it yourself if you come! Another interesting thing about the museum is that it also holds temporary exhibitions and presentations on relevant topics. Check their schedule on their website to see what is going on! 


Museum of Visual Arts or MAVI

First of all, the acronym MAVI stands for its name in Spanish: "Museo de Artes Visuales." The museum is located in the Mulato Gil de Castro Square in the Lastarria Neighborhood. The neighborhood is well known as a gastronomic center and is one of the city's most popular hotspots. The museum has always been a cultural center of Santiago and nowadays is famous for its "bohemian vibe." The MAVI opened to the public in 2001, and it was groundbreaking! The museum was a pioneer to show a private collection of contemporary art in the country. Every year the curatorial committee chooses proposals of exhibitions made by Chilean artists, which is fantastic because the museum never ceases to surprise. One of the highlights of the museum is the mural "La Debutante" made by *Chilean artist, poet, and architect:* Roberto Matta. Also, make sure you check out their permanent exhibition, "Wenu Pelon," by Francisco Huichaqueo. It is an exhibition of Mapuche objects filled with spiritual instinct; with them, the artist invites us to "perceive reality with a spiritual instinct before reason."

©Wikimedia/Rodrigo Fernández

Museum of Fine Arts of Santiago

The first museum of Fine Arts of Latin America! It was founded in 1880, and the current building where the museum is set was designed by Emile Jéquier and declared a historic monument in 1976! So the place itself is a piece of fine architecture. This museum is more of a traditional one as it displays over 3000 pieces of fine art from a variety of places and periods!  Make sure you visit the sculptures' room, where you will find a broad collection of Chilean made art. Marvel yourself with collections of paintings and maybe visit the library. Like many other museums, it offers temporary exhibitions, workshops, and even some classes. Visit their website to see what is going on while you are in Santiago. 


Museum of Memory and Human Rights

This museum is very different from the others; its purpose is to commemorate Chileans who were victims of human rights violations during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. The point of this museum is to pay respect to those who died or gone missing. It is also there to remind people that those terrifying situations happened so that history does not repeat itself. Walking through this museum is a heart-sinking experience as it serves as a photographic tour through one of the country's darkest years. An interesting feature of the museum is how it uses a lot of audiovisual resources to show what happened: from La Moneda bombing to the 1988 plebiscite; everything is shown with videos, recordings, photographs, and even letters, among other things. 


Visiting a museum is a great activity to get in touch with the culture of a place. The ones presented here are not the only ones Santiago has to offer, but I feel they are the ones that could give you a better understanding of the Chilean identity and history of the country. Get inspired, visit a museum, and learn about Chile! 

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