Whale skeletons, fossils and artifacts from ancient civilizations present a glimpse into the diverse cultural history of Chile and South America.
A visit to the Museo Nacional de Historia Natural (National Museum of Natural History) offers a fascinating insight into the natural and cultural heritage of Chile and South America. From taxidermy displays to ancient fossils and artifacts from pre-Colombian civilizations, the museum showcases the continent’s long and varied history.
The museum presents 12 permanent exhibitions, spread over two floors and covering everything from botany and zoology to minerals and archaeology. The centerpiece of the museum is a 56-feet (17-meter) long blue whale skeleton. See a collection of stuffed animals, including some 5,000 birds, over 3,000 reptiles and amphibians, plus numerous mammals, fish and insects. Find displays of plants that date back to the early 19th century and an exhibit of the different types of meteorites that have landed in Chile.
Don’t miss the collection of archaeology findings from ancient civilizations, such as the Inca Empire and the Rapa Nui people from the mysterious Easter Island. Look for the replica of the Plomo Mummy, a mummified Incan child discovered on the Andean mountain Cerro El Plomo. Spot centuries-old fossils, many unearthed on remote Chilean islands such as Isla Guafo and Isla Mocha. Find examples of boats and hunting weapons used by the early inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego, an archipelago shared between Argentina and Chile.
A series of temporary exhibitions provide a further insight into Chilean culture, for example the history of the Mapuche people in Santiago. The Museo Nacional de Historia Natural sits in Quinta Normal Park, one of Santiago’s most attractive public parks. It’s easily reachable via public buses and the metro. It is about a 30-minute walk away from Plaza de Armas. Also visit the park’s other attractions, including the Museum of Science and Technology and the Railway Museum.
The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, including public holidays. There’s a nominal admission fee, but Sundays and public holidays are free. Free guided tours are available, just check the museum’s official website for details. Ask at the museum’s reception for information about current expositions.