The National History Museum, located in the Plaza de Armas, exhibits Chile’s history from pre-Columbian times up to 1973.
Its 15 rooms display a wide collection of archaeological remains, military pieces, artistic works and religious antiquities. These unveil traces of gathering and hunting peoples who existed prior to the Incas, the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores as well as the evolution of the Republican period up to the Government of Salvador Allende.
Since 1982, the museum is housed in the building erected in 1804 for the Palacio de la Real Audiencia (Royal Courthouse), and receives thousands of visitors daily from Chile and abroad. It has a large library, a temporary exhibition room, a specialized guide service and reproductions of historical photographs.
The museum was founded on May 2, 1911, during the administration of President Ramón Barros Luco, and brought together the collections from the former Historical Indigenous Museum, founded by Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna on Cerro Santa Lucía in 1874; from the Historical Gallery of the National Museum, created in 1876; and from the Military Museum, officially opened in 1893.
The museum was initially located in some of the rooms of the Fine Arts Museum and later in part of the National Library building. The shortage of space for displaying the collections led to a search for another venue, and the former Royal Courthouse was chosen.
This neo-classical style building is the work of Chilean architect Juan José de Goycolea y Zañartu. Built between 1804 and 1808, it was intended to become the seat of the Royal Courthouse. The facility was the site of the First National Congress session on July 4, 1811, and then became the seat of Government until Spanish authority was reestablished in 1814 and, along with it, the Royal Courthouse.
In 1817, in the wake of the triumph of the patriots in the Battle of Chacabuco, the building became the seat of Government until 1845, when President Manuel Bulnes transferred the headquarters of the Executive to the Royal Mint.
The history of this building has always had a public character. Thus, from 1847 to 1929 it housed the Intendance of Santiago, and the Post Office and Telegraph service until 1978.
In September 1982, it was opened as the National History Museum.
The Tower Benjamin Vicuña Mackenna
The current Tower of the National History Museum (Museo Histórico Nacional) was built in 1884 and it has experienced several changes from the original construction in 1808. From there, the Intendant Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna transformed the city of Santiago and compiled the first objects of the present collection of the National History Museum.
The Tower was restored with a process of conservation and modification realized during the year 2013. It was open to public in february of the next year. Since its inauguration, national and international visitors have the opportunity to access on it through a spiral stairs that goes across seven floors. Also is possible to know the mechanic four spheres clock’s operation, which arises over the city. It was not working up to 2005, in that year was recover and start to work again just like used to do it in the XIX Century.
The Tower has a balcony from where is possible to enjoy of the best view of Plaza de Armas.
Inside the Museum, the History of Chile is told museographically through the following thematic rooms:
Room The First Inhabitants of Chile
Discovery and Conquest Room
The Indiana City Room
Church and State Room
Room The Colonial Society
The Society Room of the 18th century
The Collapse of the Empire Room
Room The Idea of Freedom Room
The Recomposition of Order Room
The Consolidation of the Republican Order
Room The Means of Transport Education
Room The Liberal Order
Room La Sociedad at the beginning of the 20th century
Hopes of change room
The Great Crisis Room
Room of the Popular Front to the Popular Unity
Plaza de Armas, 951, Santiago.