Chile,  Travel,  Travel Tips

Travel Guide: Chile’s Museum of Memory and Human Rights

I was inspired to create this guide during a visit to the Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos in October 2018. I hope it’s useful for future visitors, and those who may never get a chance to see it.

The museum is architecturally stunning, both inside and out. But more importantly, the stories within it are crucial to understanding Chile. I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting Santiago, truly one of the city’s must-sees.

Visiting the Museum

Ground Floor: Welcome Desk, Store, Global Human Rights exhibit

  • At the welcome desk, they’ll tell you a bit about the museum and also note your country of origin. 
  • Recommendation: If you don’t speak Spanish, definitely get the audioguide. Most of the videos and exhibits are in Spanish, so you won’t be able to fully appreciate the museum without one. 
  • This floor commemorates human rights violations and truth commissions from around the world. It provides a nice context for the museum and the rest of the visit. The individual photos that make up the world map collage are powerful to see.
Showcasing how, unfortunately, human rights violations are worldwide.
Close-up of just a few of the photos.

1st & 2nd Floors: Permanent Exhibits – September 11, 1973, the years of dictatorship and the fight for liberty

  • These two floors are an interactive showcase for September 11, 1973 and the ensuing years.
  • September 11, 1973 is explored from all angles, such as President Salvador Allende’s final radio address, video of the bombing of the Presidential Palace by the air force, photos and newspaper articles.
  • The pain of the ensuing years is brought to life beautifully, but hard to stomach at times. The museum tells the story of the people who were detained, tortured, ‘disappeared’ and their families. It also explores the social and political backdrop, both domestic and international at the time.
Drawings by children of people who disappeared.
At the top, Carlos writes ‘Where is my dad?’.
Posters from around the world in the 1970’s and 80’s denouncing the dictatorship.
Each book documents the horrors of the dictatorship, from the ‘caravan of death’ to women who were detained. One book is dedicated to pregnant women who were never seen again, one excerpt below. 
The words that chilled me to the bone. Cecilia was 23 years old and 5 months pregnant. They came to her home in October 1974 looking for her partner, Flavio. He wasn’t there, so they took Cecilia and her 1 year old son, Leonardo to her sister’s house where they found Flavio. Then, they left the child there and took Cecilia and Flavio into custody at one of the detention centers in Santiago. In mid October 1974, they and other political prisoners were taken somewhere unknown. The story of an orphaned child and untold horrors, in one paragraph.
This space felt like an everlasting candlelight vigil. A guide was bringing it to life for a group of students.

3rd Floor: Temporary Exhibits and additional multimedia exhibits

  • When we visited (Oct 2018), half the third floor was an exhibit entitled ‘Indigenous Memories’.
  • This exhibit showcased the human rights violations suffered by Chile’s many indigenous peoples during the dictatorship, as well as the stigma and discrimination they still face in today’s society.
  • Chile is home to many indigenous peoples, from the Rapa Nui of Easter Island to the Mapuche of southern Patagonia, the only indigenous peoples that never fell to Spanish colonization in all of Latin America. This exhibit showcased what they’ve gone through in an interactive, visually stunning way.
Indigenous Memories exhibit
Videos sharing indigenous peoples’ voices
An interactive part of the exhibit. As you listen to discriminatory phrases being spoken, you’re looking in the mirror, which asks: ‘Have you ever said this?’?

Useful Information

  • Hours:
    • Tuesday – Sunday: 10am-8pm (January & February)
    • Tuesday-Sunday: 10am-6pm (March through December)
    • Closed Mondays and holidays (1 January, 1 May, 18 September, 19 September, 25 December)
  • Admission: Free (separate audioguide: $2000 CLP, ~$3 USD) 
  • How to get there:
    • Nearest Metro stop: Parque Quinta Normal (Line 5) – exit the station and cross the street to the museum. It’s opposite the entrance to the Quinta Normal park, which houses several other museums.
  • Amenities: There’s a small museum shop and a cafe, where you can grab a quick lunch or coffee. 

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