We finished our third day in Santiago with some fine art at the Museo de Bellas Artes – the oldest art museum in Latin America. The museum was officially founded on September 18, 1880, and originally named Museo National de Pinturas. In 1901 the government announced it would build a new building for the museum and the Museo de Bellas Artes was inaugurated in September 1910 as part of the celebrations commemorating the first centennial of the independence of Chile. Out of all the photos I took there is not one of that relief above the door!
The central entrance is an enlarged version of Borromini’s false-perspective window (in the Palazzo Barberini, Rome). It encloses a pedimented doorway surrounded entirely by glass. The facade and internal layout are modeled after the Petit Palais, Paris. Come on in… .The glass cupola over the central hall was designed & manufactured in Belgium and shipped to Chile in 1907. The approximate weight of the cupola “armour” is 115,000kg, and the glass weighs about 2,400kg. It doesn’t seem that it would be an easy thing to ship (unlike the collapsible Museo Artequin we’d seen earlier in the day)
Above the balcony from the second floor there is a high-relief carving which depicts two angels supporting a shield. They are in a semivault above the heads of two Caryatids that arise from the balcony. Caryatid is a fancy name for a sculpted female used in place of a column as an architectural support.
These were my favourite artworks on display:
The museum is located in a riverside park called Parque Forestal (Forest Park); it’s the perfect setting for fine art. We’d had such a big day I think if we’d sat down here we’d have dozed off.