Chile: Parque Quinta Normal & Museo Artequin

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Okay holidays are over –  it’s back to Chile posts..    On our 3rd day in Santiago we headed off to the Parque Quinta Normal by metro.  The 96 acre (39h) park was initially established as an “acclimatization”  park for imported trees and animal breeding site.  Now it’s a gorgeous park of sweeping lawns and a lagoon.
 IMG_1931
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IMG_1862as well as home to several museums including the Museo Nacional de Historia Natural (Natural History Museum)  IMG_1856 an outdoor Railway museum  (Museo Ferroviario) and the MOD (Contemporary) on the outer edge: IMG_1911
As we walked through the park we were drawn towards an impressive blue building just opposite one of the entrance gates.  It was the Museo Artequin which is in a building first used as the Chilean exhibition hall at the 1889 Parisian Expo.    IMG_1867a
The building was designed by the French architect Henri Picq who won the competition to build a collapsible building of iron, steel and zinc for the Expo. Built by Moisant, Laurent Savey & Co the building consists mostly of glass and riveted steel. It is wireframe (mechano).  (The Eiffel Tower, by architect Gustave Eiffel, was built for the same exhibition using the same materials).  At the Paris exhibition the building was named “The Chilean Pavilion” and demonstrated Chile’s accomplishments in Trade, Education, Agriculture and the Military.
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At the conclusion of the expo the Pavilion was taken apart and shipped to Valparaiso and then put on a train to Santiago.   It was reconstructed on its current site in 1894, renamed the Pavillion Paris, and housed the Exhibition of Mining & Metallurgy.  The building became an Aeronautical Museum for the Air Force at some stage before being completely renovated in 1992, including being repainted in its original colours, and reopening as the Museo Artequin.  This is mostly an educational facility for children but adult workshops & classes run by professional artists are also held here.
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Copies of famous artwork hang on the walls at child’s height:      IMG_1876
And there are small tables & drawing materials:
IMG_1881The building is 10m x 10m and 10 metres tall (33′) then topped with a large central glazed dome with 4 smaller domes in the corners.  The metal frame/glass panels are collapsible; the interior is decorative plaster and cement fillings.  The perimeter fence on the upper interior level is made of gypsum plaster with sand added.  The coffered panels and decorative motifs are plaster moulded.  (click on photos to see larger size).
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21 responses

  1. Santiago seems to be filled with beautiful parks and public buildings. I like that they turned the Expo building into an education center for the arts. Locally we had an arts center housed in an old art moderne school building, but it was closed during the recession for lack of funds to run its programs. (And now the city wants to spend millions of dollars on a new basketball arena. So all these millionaire athletes can have a place to play basketball.) It seems natural to combine beautiful architecture with arts education, especially for children.

    • Although it doesn’t look like it from my interior photos there were actually 2 big school groups there. They arrived the same time as us but were taken off for a lecture before being set free amongst the paint, pencils and paper. The entire building had a really nice bohemian feel to it. Kids could appreciate the “artworks” without feeling that stuffiness which seems to go with museums and famous paintings.

    • It is such a gorgeous building – I’ve not seen another like it. I think Santiago is seen as fairly conservative compared to neighbours Rio and Buenos Aires. There’s an interesting mix of architecture – some of it lovely and some quite “communist bloc” looking. The business district of El Gulf has modern buildings, not bland, but I wonder how they will age. I took photos during a wander around El Gulf which will probably make a post in a week or so….

  2. What a beautiful structure. I wonder why in the US we don’t see more artisan, modern buildings like this. Or maybe I’m just looking in the wrong places.

    • There are not any buildings like this in DC though I think we do have some beautiful buildings (Eg: Capitol Dome, old Post Office tower, National Basilica) – they are not painted in lovely colours though 🙂 I think Miami has buildings which could be called artisan.

  3. I love the Chilean building and love how it was called that in Paris then renamed the Parisian once in Chile. Har!

    It’s striking, surely.

  4. Pingback: Chile: Museo de Bellas Artes… | Aussie Emjay's Blog

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