Thursday, January 1, 2015

* Colchagua Museum



Museo de Colchagua




Colchagua Museum, Santa Cruz, Chile.
    Museo de Colchagua, the most comprehensive private museum in the country, which has the largest collection in South America, located 200 km. South of Santiago in the town of Santa Cruz, Region del Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins, heart of one of the most typical rural regions of the country.  Colchagua Museum is a private institution, managed by Cardoen Foundation, headed by the Chilean businessman Carlos Cardoen.  There is a collection that includes nearly 7,000 items mainly related to the areas of Paleontology, Archeology, History of Chile and the World, including specific pavilions about Modernity,  History and Development of Weapons, outfit worn by the Huasos (typical Chilean country men), carriages, Agricultural Machinery, Pavilion of the Railroads, exhibition halls that host the largest private collection of Latin America.   

     Few could imagine that behind its modest facade, typical of the Chilean colonial time, one can find such a comprehensive exhibit, ranging from fossilized trunks of million years ago, to an almost exact replica of the underground refuge of  "San Jose" mine and the "Fenix" capsule that rescued the 33 trapped miners.  According to the words of its founder Mr. Carlos Cardoen, "the display is the product of my interest in sharing with others the objects and the knowledge gained through my life on fascinating themes about our origins as human beings, as South American and Chileans".  Another of the reasons that  Carlos Cardoen admits to having had in mind for the creation of the Museum in 1995 "was the concern that causes me the lack of national identity of the majority of the Chileans".  At the end of his introduction Mr. Cardoen adds: "It is necessary to criticize the past and current educational policies and realize that we need to give value to our roots and our national identity, and as I think that this is a task for all Chileans and not only the government in power, I decided to give this passion a collective guidance, sharing with you all my madness." 
    
     The original building that houses the museum was severely damaged with the earthquake of February 27, 2010, so it was closed for eight months, to perform various major repairs. More than 50% of its collections were harmed, resulting completely destroyed the display of pre-Columbian Art. The museum was reopened on October 2 of that year, with the presence of President Sebastian Pinera.


Collections of Museo de Colchagua


  
Chilean Archeology, Colchagua Museum, Santa Cruz.
Photo: www.museocolchagua.cl
     The Paleontology exhibition contains fossils of distinct species that go back to a period of three hundred million years and more, that testify to the origin and evolution of life on the planet, including a magnificent collection of amber (fossilized tree resin), unique in its kind in Chile, and many fossils of echinoderms, ammonites, trilobites, mollusks, fish, vegetables, insects and vertebrates, among others.  Prehistory of Chile,  shows the cultural development of the territory before the arrival of the Spanish conquerors. There are plenty of archaeological objects recovered from the times of the arrival of man to America and Chile, tools made with different materials, remains of extinct animals, a mummy of the Chinchorro Culture of Northern Chile of 8000 years, 2000 years older than the Egyptian mummies, textiles and pottery of pre-Columbian cultures. Prehistory of America, where you will find articles, objects and other elements of the Hispanic cultures across the continent through various handicraft expressions, the Inca Empire room, who were the first foreign conquerors of Chile from 1420 and dominated most of the current territory of the country, until they met the Mapuche people, who prevented their expansion to the south.  La Conquista and La Colonia (The Conquest and Colony Rooms) recalling the meeting of two completely different worlds and civilizations, Europe and America, with many objects and where you can discover and learn details about life in those times. 



Golden Chalice inlaid with Emerald
Photo: www.museocolchagua.cl
     Religious Art  Room, with liturgical objects from different periods, until the nineteenth century. Independence of Chile Room, important objects like a piano that belonged to the Father of the Nation Bernardo O'Higgins, paintings, weapons, furniture and documents such as the minutes of installation of the Primera Junta de Gobierno (First Government Junta) in 1810, the presidential sash of Jose Miguel Carrera, etc.  La Republica,  contains furniture, documents, clothing, weapons, photographs and many other objects all directly related to events that occurred in the nineteenth century such as the Pacific War, armed conflict from 1879 to 1883 which pitted Chile against Bolivia and Peru;  the development of the nitrate industry in the far North;  the Revolution of 1891; the incorporation of Easter Island to Chilean territory, and other events.  Modernity, pavilion dedicated to show the advancement of the modern World (XIX and XX centuries), including the radio, beginnings of the cinema, television and other communication technologies, means of transportation, etc. Weapons Pavilion, one of the most important collections of the country, displays arms used since ancient times to World War II.  The Motor Show, has a gallery of vintage cars, reflecting the technological advances occurred during the first decades of the twentieth century of this invention of the late 1800's.  Some models of the exhibition are a Deupressoir, a French model of one cylinder, made in 1903, Chile's oldest car;  a Paige of 1913, considered the best preserved of the country,  a Racing Car of the 194o's decade, belonging to Bartholome Ortiz, a renowned Chilean driver of that time ; a bus from the 50's;  the limousine that in 1946 carried Argentine President Juan Domingo Peron during his visit to Santiago and more recently, the Indy Racing Car used by the Chilean driver Eliseo Salazar.  The pavilion Joyas de Los Andes (Jewels of the Andes), collects a large amount of jewelry of the pre-Columbian World, featuring pieces made by the Mayas, Aztecs, further south some belonging to Andean cultures,  the relatively recent archaeological discovery of Sipan in Peru; a huge collection of jewelry in "plateria Mapuche", manufacture of silver jewels, craft activity of great relevance within the Mapuche culture, of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The exhibition is complemented with human reproductions as the figure based on the discovery of the Lord of Sipan, Moche culture of Peru. Charles Darwin's room, dedicated to honor the renowned British naturalist who left his mark on Chile between 1832 and 1835, when he crossed the country from Tierra del Fuego to Copiapo, making geological, botanical, zoological and anthropological observations. During his visit to the southern provinces, Darwin even witnessed a violent earthquake.  Railway in Chile,  as in the rest of the world, the railroad in Chile was the noisy and smoky symbol of progress, from the mid-nineteenth century.  The long distances between cities and the emerging trade between regions made even more justifiable the efforts for its implementation. In this part of the museum are shown elements related to its history and development.  Countryside Machinery, Chile is a country that stands out for its large forest, agricultural and wine production.  This section displays hand- operated, animal traction and steam- operated machinery, used during the beginnings of mechanization of field work in Chile.  You can also visit the Carriages section, which were used mostly in the region of Colchagua during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and Aperos del Huaso, a section of the display dedicated to show all the equipment, clothing, musical instruments, etc. used by the Huaso, typical Chilean countryman who in turn, is recognized for being a skilled horseman.  A section that moves the visitors is "El Gran Rescate" (The Big Rescue), an exhibition dedicated to the feat of saving alive the miners trapped underground for two months in the San José Mine, Atacama Desert in 2010, event that was known throughout the world.

Opening hours: 

Winter:     Monday to Sunday,  10:00 to 18:00 hrs.
Summer:  Monday to Sunday,  10:00 to 19:00 hrs.