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Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts

Museums and Art Galleries
Mueseum in Chile

In 1905, the design of the Palace of Fine Arts was entrusted to the Chilean-French architect Emile Jequier, who was inspired by the internal route and the facade of the Petit Palais in Paris. Its neoclassical style also includes ornaments characteristic of the Art Nouveau prevailing at the time. The high relief of the pediment of the Museum, work executed by the Chilean sculptor Guillermo Cordova, represents an allegory to the Fine Arts. The subject was proposed by Jequier himself and had to be made in white stone or cast cement. Among the ornaments of the exterior frieze of the museum building are twenty-two ceramic mosaic medallions representing great architects, sculptors and painters of universal art, among them Phidias, Praxiteles, Bramante,

The glass dome that crowns the central hall of the Museum was designed and built in Belgium, commissioned to the Compagnie Centrale de Construction de Haine-Saint-Pierre, and brought to Chile in 1907. The approximate weight of the dome's armor is 115,000 kilos and glass pieces total 2,400 units. Architecturally, the Museum's floor has a central axis marked by the entrance door and the staircase of the great hall that leads to the entire upper floor. In the central hall, on the west balcony of the second floor, a high relief depicting two angels holding a shield was placed.

The work was done after the original was seriously damaged in the 1985 earthquake. Two imposing Caryatids that simulate holding the large dome can be seen from the entrance to the hall on the balconies of the second floor, are the work of Antonio Coll y Pi. Throughout its history, the architecture of the building has undergone several modifications. In 1938, an amphitheater was built on the north side, the work of the architect Eduardo Secchi that had uncovered stands, had a capacity for 200 people and was initially intended to perform children's theater performances. In 1979, the amphitheater was remodeled with contributions from the Municipality of Santiago and from 2003, it was used to develop theater, music and dance activities.


During the direction of Nemesio Antúnez, between 1970 and 1971, the Matta Room was built, named after Roberto Matta, located on the basement floor. For its construction it was necessary to completely raise the slab of the Central Hall. The room covers an area of ​​60 square meters and 100 linear meters for exhibitions. On December 30, 1976, the building of the National Museum of Fine Arts was declared a National Monument. On the occasion of the centenary of the founding of the Museum, in 1980 the access plaza was remodeled and the sculpture by Rebeca Matte that alludes to the myth of Icarus and Daedalus, called United in Glory and Death, was reinstated. The sculpture had been loaned for years to the Aeronautical Museum and was donated in 1930 by Pedro Iniguez, husband of the artist, a year after his death. The work is a copy of the monument commissioned to Rebeca Matte that the Chilean government donated to Brazil in 1922, in the Centennial of its Independence. In 2002, the Museum without walls project was established. With the initiative of bringing the artistic heritage to the public in places of great affluence, the museum holds exhibitions of its collection in specially designed spaces in Mall Plaza Vespucio and Plaza Trebol de Concepcion.

The earthquake of February 2010 did not cause significant damage to the building thanks to the effective structural work carried out after the 1985 earthquake. The museum should not close its doors to the public and, without modifying its agenda, it continued with the preparations for the exhibition Del passed to the present. Migrations, which brought together works acquired in 1910 and aimed to hold a double celebration in September: the centenary of the building of the museum itself and the bicentennial of the country.

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Jose Miguel de la Barra 650, Santiago

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