In the Atacama

Exploring Chile’s history through the Museo de Antofagasta

This Northern port city is full of history, and you can experience it for yourself at the city’s main museum. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013  
Photo by Liz Rickles/This is Chile. Photo by Liz Rickles/This is Chile.


Antofagasta is a common point of connection for visitors traveling between northern and southern Chile, and this city’s sandy beaches, great seafood, and beautiful weather make it a worthwhile place to spend an afternoon. Furthermore, this mining town’s incredibly rich history played a central role in the formation of modern Chile, and you can learn more about it at the Museo de Antofagasta.


While the museum’s written content is in Spanish, non-Spanish speakers can still enjoy the artifacts and photographs displayed throughout the 12 exhibition rooms of the museum, which is housed in a historic building overlooking the ocean built in 1888.


First Floor


The first floor of the museum explores the history of the region’s early indigenous people, the Changos, who lived on the coast of the Atacama Desert for thousands of years. The Changos were skilled fishermen that used harpoons made of bone to hunt and created rafts of wood and seal skin to fish far out into the sea.


In the exhibit, you can view Chango rock paintings excavated from the nearby archaeological site El Médano, which are thought to be between 500 and 1,000 years old.  


Second Floor


The Museo de Antofagasta’s second floor focuses on 18th and 19th century Antofagastan history. On this floor, you’ll find artifacts that follow Antofagasta’s silver, nitrate, and copper mining cycles. In addition, the floor explores the mining industry’s impact on technology in the region.


The mining industry in the Antofagasta region has had a major impact on Chile’s growth and development, making this history especially fascinating.


Visiting Museo de Antofagasta


The museum is located at José Manuel Balmaceda 2786 and is open Tuesday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and weekends and holidays from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The cost is US$ 1.20 (CLP 600) for adults, and US$ 0.60 (CLP 300) for kids and university students. Sundays and holidays are free.

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