The Museum of Contemporary Art in Santiago de Chile
Celebrating its 70th Anniversary
by Miguel Bermudez
Seventy years of assembling a historically important collection are being celebrated this year with the Santiago de Chile’s Museum of Contemporary Art’s first Catalog Raisonné. The MAC (Museo de Arte Contemporanea) is run by the University of Chile Faculty of Arts and maintains a collection of nearly 3,000 pieces, including approximately 1,000 engravings, 600 paintings, 100 drawings, watercolors and sketches and some 80 sculptures. The MAC’s collection dates from the late 19th Century to the present. It includes internationally recognized artists such as Isamu Noguchi, David Batchelor and Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Roberto Matta, Nemesio Antúñez and Matilde Pérez are a few of the Chilean artists represented.
It has taken four years to assemble the magnificent CR (Catalogue Raisonné) which includes works selected by a group of researchers aided by the participation of Chilean and foreign specialists. This outstanding catalogue contains a vivid historical display of the evolution of modern and contemporary art, and it demonstrates the importance Chileans’ place in their national culture. A total of 250 pieces of art are featured in the CR.
Pabla Ugarte, President of the Friends of MAC society, has stated that this Catalogue “is a form of invitation extended to the public – artists, researchers, historians, teachers, students, among others – to get to know the collection and to appreciate its variety, richness and cultural value”.
Clara Luz Cárdenas, Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Chile writes: “This CR’s relevance exceeds the walls of the Museum and those of the University of Chile and it becomes a contribution to a nation of fragile memories”.
It is interesting to note that part of the Museum’s Mission is to use art as a form of expression and social inclusion and to promote debate and reflection on all fields of human knowledge. Francisco Brugnoli, Director of the MAC points out that “The curatorial order proposed by the research group has resulted in a museology (techniques and practices that direct the operation of the museum) that seeks to point out the tensions coming from each cultural moment…. To present a contrast between art presented by these artists vis-à-vis works originating from other realities”. In other words, the museum is seeking to engage the public through modern and contemporary art with a thoughtful reflection on the evolution of society.
This is a very interesting mélange of art, society, the memory of the change and the challenging milestones experienced by a transforming country. In this instance, art is not only the presentation of works by prominent artists that have been recognized in each category, but a message expressed through those living through each particular change. This is what Mr. Brugnoli calls, “making world in every moment”.
In 2006 the Museum had over 31,000 visitors. By 2016 the figure had grown to an impressive 170,729, which clearly communicates the success of those involved in running and supporting the museum. Free entry to the museum was established in early 2015, which doubled the visits from 87,233 in 2014 to 170,729 in 2015.
The museum organizes visits to schools throughout Chile and takes replicas of some of the collection’s signature pieces on tours around the country demonstrating the entity’s ambition of making art accessible to the younger generation.
On site, the MAC organizes lectures on works of art and undertakes lectures with artists and curators on artistic, social, historical and political experiences and places these in an artistic context. There are also family visits as well as tours that are geared to main exhibitions.