Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino
The Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino (Bandera 361, tel. 02/6887348, www.precolombino.cl) is open 10 a.m.–6 p.m. daily except Monday; it closes during Semana Santa (Holy Week) and on May 1, September 18, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. Admission costs US$3 but is free for students and children.
The late Chilean architect Sergio Larraín García-Moreno donated a lifetime’s acquisitions to create this exceptional museum in the late colonial Real Casa de Aduana (Royal Customs House, 1805). Following independence, the neoclassical building became the Biblioteca Nacional (National Library) and then the Tribunales de Justicia (Law Courts) until a 1968 fire destroyed most of its interior and archives. The two-story structure has twin patios separated by a broad staircase leading to the upstairs exhibits.
The permanent collections from Mesoamerica and the central and southern Andes are impressive; there are smaller displays on the Caribbean, the Amazon, and Andean textiles. Particularly notable are the carved wooden chemamull, larger-than-life-size Mapuche funerary statues. The museum also possesses Aguateca’s Stele 6, from a Late Classic Maya site in Guatemala’s Petén lowlands that’s suffered severe depredations from looters.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition