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Museums in Chile

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Chile is home to hundreds of museums dedicated to its history in general as well as its artists, writers, musicians, native peoples, historical figures and other subjects like cars, fashion, trains and nature.

One recently inaugurated option near the city of Antofagasta is the Atacama Desert Museum. The museum can be found at the Ruins of Huanchaca in an imposing former silver foundry that now houses archeological and geological collections.

In Santiago, a visit to the National History Museum will allow you to learn about the country's Colonial and Independence eras through objects, clothing, furniture and documents. To learn more about the continent's native peoples, visit Santiago's Pre-Columbian Museum and take in its excellent collection.

If you're a fan of literature or have enjoyed the work of Pablo Neruda, you'll love visiting the places where he wrote the poems that won him the Nobel Prize for Literature. The poet's three homes – in Valparaíso (La Sebastiana), Santiago (La Chascona) and Isla Negra - are now museums featuring collections that give insight into his personality and life story.

Another winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Gabriela Mistral, has a museum in her hometown of Vicuña, in the Elqui Valley. If you happen to be enjoying the beaches of La Serena, the museum is just a short trip away.

In the mood for some Chilean art? Head to the National Museum of Fine Arts in the Santiago neighborhood of Lastarria. This spectacular building, which dates back to 1910, features works by Chilean artists Roberto Matta, Claudio Bravo and many others. The Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC) in Parque Forestal (behind the Fine Arts Museum) and the Museum of Visual Arts (MAVI) are just a few blocks away. In the neighborhood of Quinta Normal, you'll find another MAC location as well as the interesting architecture of the Matucana 100 Cultural Center and the Santiago Library.

The imposing Palacio La Moneda Cultural Center, located in the basement level of the house of government, is home to important seasonal collections that are presented against a modern architectural backdrop. Past exhibits have included the Terracotta Warriors, the finest selection of gold and silver from the museums of Latin America, the sackcloth works and paintings of Violeta Parra, and a host of other interesting international collections. It's well worth taking a look at the schedule and planning a visit. The center also houses restaurants, cafés and a crafts store selling high-quality products.

The capital is also home to museums you might not expect to find here, including the world-class Fashion Museum, which exhibits garments from different eras in Chile and other countries, including some worn by such notables as Elvis, Madonna and the Princess of Wales. There are also interesting seasonal exhibits.

In the heart of the Colchagua Valley (known for its vineyards and tourist attractions), you'll find the city of Santa Cruz and the Colchagua Museum. This museum boasts finely curated collections that include carriages, jewels, garments and trains. This is a great opportunity to immerse yourself in Chile's colonial era through soldiers' uniforms, letters, everyday objects and much more on display. Well worth a visit.

The archipelago of Chiloé is home to the Museum of Modern Art (MAM) and the Ancud Regional Museum, among others.


Featured Destinations

aSan Pedro de Atacama bLa Serena and Coquimbo
cSantiago dCentral Coast
eHighlights of the Central Valley fVineyards
GEaster Island HChiloé
ISouthern Patagonia




Museo de la Memoria ("Museum of Memory") Train Cemetery Museums of the South
Inaugurated in Santiago in 2009, this museum commemorates the controversial years of Chile's dictatorship and is dedicated to its victims. The spectacular collection includes posters, photographs and objects. Address: Matucana 501, Santiago. The locomotives, cargo cars and passenger cars that made up the glorious railroad network of southern Chile now reside at the Pablo Neruda National Railroad Museum in Temuco. It bears the name of the poet because his father was an engineer in this city. Address: Avenida Barros Arana 0565. You can visit a number of small museums that tell the story of the German colonists who came to Chile in the 19th century in Frutillar, Puerto Octay, Puerto Varas and Valdivia and on the shores of Lake Lllanquihue.


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