My Day at the Museum! Sept 27, 2007

Well, the day started innocently enough. Mary, Alan’s wife, and I decided to take in a couple of museums. Her husband and David are both in Lima at the job site for an indefinite period of time. We met and walked downtown to the Casa Colorado Museum. This museum is in one of the original colonial homes of Santiago and has various displays showing the history of Santiago. The house was the home of Mateo de Toro y Zambrano, Santiago’s most prosperous businessman of the 18th century. It is also where the Chilean Declaration of Independence was signed on September 18, 1810. The house was lovely, with an inside courtyard and think adobe walls.

After wandering through the museum, we had a quick bit for lunch at a vegetarian restaurant that we found on the pedestrian mall area. I had a wonderful dish of mushrooms and risotto.

The plan was to go to the Pre-Columbian Museum in Santiago. Not far from the first museum. I have been to this museum before, but would like to go back again as I didn’t feel as though I did it well enough the first time. So, there we were, in the Plaza de Armas looking at the map to figure out where the museum was, when Alfredo Schmidt came up to us. This is so funny, because you might remember I met Alfredo earlier this year at Santa Lucia Park when he was asking for donations for Down Syndrome children.

Sunday, when David and I were in the Plaza de Armas, which is a square in the center of downtown Santiago, we saw Alfredo again. He was passing out phamplets for some theater. So, imagine my surprise when I looked up and saw Alfredo again! He offered to take us to the museum. While walking there, he asked if we had visited the Chilean Cultural Center. We hadn’t, so he took us there….it was only 5 minutes out of the way. Five minutes ended up being 10 hours!

The Cultural Center was very informative. It has map of Chile that takes up the whole room. The map is divided into different sections and shows the terrain, the cities, the industries of each area. Alfredo explained various points of interest to us. Also at the center, are various examples of crafts from each area, basket and cloth weaving, pottery, ceramics and wood carvings.

From the cultural center, we visited the University of Chile and the San Francisco Catholic Church. This building is over 400 years old and the oldest building in Santiago. Next, was the Catholic University and after that, the art museum, Museo de Bellas Arte. This houses Chilean art from all periods. For me, the most interesting exhibit I saw was by the Chilean sculpture, Felix Maruenda. He recently passed away in 2004 and is considered one of the leading artist of contemporary Chilean sculpture. Another interesting exhibit was by the photographer, Raul Alverez. He photographed famous Chilean people from the 60s, 70s and 80s. He had a photograph of Violeta Parra who is famous for many Chilean folk songs from the 60s.

By the time we left the art museum, it was close to 7:00 PM. The next stop was the National Biblioteca where we discovered they were having a concert of classical chamber music. It was wonderful, especially the last two selections. One was Suite Aisen by a Chilean composer, Ivan Barrientos and the other was Libertango by Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992).

The evening ended at the restaurant Los Buenos Muchachos. We got there just in time for the amazing floor show of Chilean folk music and dancing. The Chileans learn these folk dances from when they are very young. We enjoyed the show while eating our dinner of salmon, shrimp, salad and wine. After the show, we enjoyed some salsa dancing. The picture above is me dancing with some politician from Switzerland.

It was a fun and interesting day. We learned much about Santiago and Chilean culture…not to mention all the practice we got with our Spanish!

Tomorrow, Mary and I are going to Valparaiso, Chile, which is on the coast. We are going to visit Pablo Neruda’s two homes…who knows what adventures we will come our way????

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