This museum stands out for drawing together the largest collection of Colonial Art in Chile. It was created in 1969 at the initiative of the Franciscan Order itself, the owner of these artistic works. Today it continues to exist as a venue for spreading historical religious information, while providing a valuable cultural contribution to society.
With clearly religious oriented themes, its collection includes 17th and 18th century paintings from important schools of colonial art, such as the Quito School, which describe the life of the founder of the Order, Saint Francis of Assisi. The collection also has some extremely old pieces of sculpture, gold and silverwork, ironwork and wrought-ironwork.
In the exhibition stands out Nobel medal received by Gabriela Mistral in 1945, who bequeathed it to Chile under the custody of the Franciscan Order, of which she was secular member.
All this museological wealth is located on one side of San Francisco Church, the oldest in Santiago, and is the anteroom to a trip around the heritage quarter known as Barrio París Londres.
The museum occupies part of the Convent of the San Francisco. It was officially opened in 1969, thanks to an initiative of the Franciscan Congregation and the Pro-Restoration of San Francisco Committee.
Throughout its history, it has undergone different restoration processes, both on its façade and its interior spaces, such as the side aisles, which were seriously damaged after the earthquake of 1985. In the 1990s, lighting was installed in the central aisle, and in the Wrought Ironwork Room, the false ceiling was removed, leaving the original beam framework in view.
Since its founding, the museum has put on display for the public to see the best collection of colonial art in Chile, consisting of some extremely valuable pieces that have been owned by the Franciscans for centuries and tell of 17th and 18th century spirituality. The exhibit is a synthesis of Andean colonial art: paintings, sculptures, cabinetmaking, carving, wrought ironwork, goldsmithing, silversmithing, weaving, and furniture. Paintings worth noting include the “Series on the Life of Saint Francis”, while under sculpture highlights are some Quito carvings.
The door of this room is a piece of Chilean workmanship entirely hand-carved in wood, dating back to the first half of the 17th century. Inside, works such as the Series on the Life of the Virgin are on display.
San Pedro de Alcántara Room
Seven paintings painted in Cuzco by Francisco Isidoro de Moncada in the mid 18th century are exhibited here.
Gabriela Mistral Room
This room displays the original medal and diploma of the Nobel Prize in Literature award donated by the poetess Gabriela Mistral to the Chilean people, to be cared by the Franciscans.
Chapter House Room
Among the highlights displayed in this room are “The Virgin with Child, Saint Francis and Saint Claire” (1602), an oil painting on canvas by the Italian painter Angelino Medoro (1576-1631).
On display in this room is the Series on the Life of Saint Francis, consisting of 54 oil paintings in landscape format, made in Cuzco between 1668 and 1684.
San Diego de Alcalá Series
This exhibit consists of 47 paintings made in Cuzco by an anonymous artist between 1705 and 1715. These works were originally intended to decorate the San Diego school, built in 1672, where the Central Office of the University of Chile is currently located.
Temporary exhibition room
It is a space destined to the exhibition of works of contemporary artists.
Avenida Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins, 834, Santiago.