Nuevo Museo Santiago. The Cabinet of Curiosities
Some time ago I visited the Bicentenario Park and walked from its northern end to its southern end. At the finish of this path, I found a very silent, tall and neutral construction, a covering made of a material woven by solid pieces that subtly allowed a diffuse space between inside and outside. Its monochromatic presence contrasted with the surrounding green and the backdrop of the city.
The screen delimited the perimeter of the building and stood on short supports like menhirs that allowed the Park to enter it until it became an interior. Even the undulating hills in this area of the Park seemed to penetrate into the empty and vertical courtyard that preceded the access. The texture of the light and the sun filtered by this solid and yet permeable diaphragm, made this space an ideal place to stay, have a coffee, talk and meet. Without realizing it I was already in the Museum. A continuous perimeter of glass suspended the interior of the building and incorporated its movement and life to the outside.
I watched from the outside what appeared to be a large-scale sculpture exhibition that was freely walked through by many people. It gave the impression that many activities were happening simultaneously in this place. Crossing the threshold of the access an overwhelming sensation invaded me; the magnitude of the interior, its extension and height, its luminosity and atmosphere left me in silence for a moment. It was a continuous space with a strange feeling of lightness, although immediately recognized that white concrete as the predominant material.
Gazing up, I was able to understand that there were other volumes above this space that seemed to float. A bridge joined them and people looked down contemplating those of us who were transformed by this perspective. A great staircase announced something, I understood that the people who circulated through it, either went down, or up and connected to the city level, that of the street. I walked and went up the staircase that looked more like a grandstand that turned towards this great museum hall. As I ascended, I decided to stop for a moment and sit on the steps to contemplate this space and its energy. An image came to mind, "the cabinet of curiosities", a collection of rare and fascinating objects that at first glance are not related to each other but that build a story through their fragments. The basis of museums according to some. Like the cabinet, this space housed various objects, a program designed based on the scale of the furniture and dispersed towards the transparent edges, allowed the assembly of a variety of sculptures that the public could visit. I imagined how much fun it would be to come to an opening here.
Upon reaching the top, I found myself on the wide sidewalk of the street, a pedestrian border full of trees, the access to the museum from Bicentenario Avenue. Without being very aware of my wandering, I understood that through this magnificent space I could leave the Park and connect with the city. At street level and still from the inside, I could appreciate the urban skyline of the tall towers and buildings of Santiago characteristic of Providencia.
It seemed to me that the Museum had led me through these very different landscapes. I was understanding that you had to go through these levels and that as in any museum there were exhibitions to discover. A core of vertical circulations connected all the exhibition spaces, so I was able to freely decide where to start exploring what was on display. I preferred the stairs that with an easy step led me to the level of the main rooms, the ones that floated above the extensive space through which I had entered from the Park.
Upon entering the first room, the tranquility of its atmosphere allowed me to see the diverse presence of the collection on display. Indirect and homogeneous light made the environment diaphanous and neat, the art on display was contained in this neutral support that allowed it to be appreciated clearly. At the end of the first room I was able to continue the path and connect with
another room smaller in dimension, but with the same perception and quality. I took the necessary time, I observed the variety, the formats, the colors, the shapes and the space always accompanied me as a silent accomplice. I finished this tour and found myself on the bridge that I had seen from the hall when I was coming from the Park. Now I dominated from above the vitality of everything that occurred in that space where activities and encounters converged.
I went back to the stairs where I had previously ascended and went down to the basement to reach the other spaces that the museum contained. The path left me in an atrium connected through a circular courtyard and I was able to perceive the magnitude of the vertical scale. In the auditorium there was a projection, in the acoustic room a specific assembly and another large room showed the retrospective exhibition of a more consecrated and recognized artist.
It had been almost two hours since I entered and the light outside had changed. The sun was lower and the reddish light of the Santiago sunset tinted the concrete walls slightly orange. I went up to the terrace that suggested a good viewing spot for the sunset. As I got out of the elevator, a sculpture terrace surprised me, it was a new place, another territory to explore and discover a new landscape this time from above. The views of the city and the tall buildings joined in a more continuous way with the landscape of the Park and the San Cristóbal hill where the sun was nearly hiding. I went into the restaurant where they were already expecting me. At night the lights of the city accompanied us and the darkest Park revealed its presence in another way. Coming down we headed out into town and left the Park behind, already silent and asleep.