Museo Regional de la Araucanía
The Museo Regional de la Araucanía (Av. Alemania 084, tel. 045/ 211108, www.dibam.cl/sdm_mr_araucania) is about 10 blocks west of the Plaza de Armas. Hours are 10 a.m.–5:15 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m.–7 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m.–2 p.m. Sundays and holidays. Admission costs US$1 for adults, US$0.50 for children, but is free Sundays and holidays.
Created in 1940, Temuco’s improving regional museum tackles what might, in a rhetorical sense, sound euphemistic—the “encounter” between the indigenous Mapuche and Spanish-Chilean civilization. In practice, the notion that interactions between these radically distinct cultures were a give-and-take rather than simple domination and submission is a good starting point for reassessing regional history, even if the execution is imperfect.
Housed in the former Carlos Thiers residence (1924), a German immigrant–style national monument, the museo stresses the historical centrality of the Mapuche and their ancestors, and acknowledges the diversity of various subgroups: the sedentary and shifting agriculturalists of the floodplains and forests, the fisher-gatherer Lafkenche of the Pacific littoral, and the hunter-gatherer Pehuenche of the Andean cordillera.
On the other hand, lapses in rethinking the past persist—the openly expressed perspective on “pacification” in the 300-year war between the two civilizations recalls the U.S. military’s Vietnam war dogma. Exhibits implicitly credit the Mapuche resistance with fashioning deadly weapons from available materials, but overlook their horsemanship and tactical skills.
Coverage of postwar developments is better. Arrival of the Ferrocarril de La Frontera (Frontier Railroad) brought Catholic missionaries and immigrants from northwestern and Mediterranean Europe. Maps and photographs help chronicle Temuco’s urban development, disrupted by the 1960 earthquake. One glaring omission is the marginalization of the contemporary Mapuche.
Unearthed by researchers or donated by local residents, the collections comprise more than 3,000 archaeological, ethnographic, pictorial, photographic, and historical items. The Mapuche materials, dating mostly from about A.D. 1400 to 1800, also include 19th-century jewelry and textiles. In addition, there’s a specialized library on the Mapuche, anthropology and regional history, and cartography. All coverage is in Spanish only, however.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition