The weekend gets underway in an unremarkable manner: late-night revelers take up their usual positions in the city’s countless restaurants, bars and clubs, or stroll Santiago’s streets, taking in the warm spring air and listening to street performers as they decide where to go next. Among the music and the merriment, though, is an unexpected sight, crowds streaming in and out of the capital’s most acclaimed museums.
Now in its 27th year, Santiago’s Museums at Midnight event prompts the city’s top galleries and exhibition spaces open their doors for one Friday night in late October. Billing itself as a “nocturnal tour of culture and heritage” the annual event — free to all — saw 17 museums offer special exhibitions, performances and guided tours to crowds of night owls throughout the evening.
On show was a truly eclectic range of art — both traditional and cutting edge, home-grown and international.
Among those participating in this special event were several museums exploring Chile’s patrimony. In the House Museum of Eduardo Frei Montalva visitors were invited to view 350 historical objects collected during the life of the former president. Exploring another side of the country’s history was the museum of the Carabineros, Chile’s police force, which gave visitors guided tours of its collection of uniforms.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC) showcased contemporary photography, while the Museo de Bellas Artes’ exhibitions were accompanied by dance performances and music.
The museum and cultural center within La Moneda, Chile’s presidential palace, managed to embody the events’ diversity under one roof, hosting an anthropological showcase of African art, a collection of 60 contemporary Chilean illustrators and an exhibition exploring the work of composer, folklorist, visual artist and national treasure, Violeta Parra.
Santiago is steadily building a name for itself as a key cultural hub. In the same month as Museums at Midnight, the Chilean capital hosted 100-in-a-day, a global art movement whose mission is to reclaim the streets of the world’s cities for one day of citizen creativity through a plethora of installations, workshops and performances.