La Merced Museum
This museum makes a valuable collection of Barroque, Pre-Colombian and Polynesian art available to the general public, recounting the development of the Order of Mercy in Latin America.
Paintings and engravings from Barroque Europe and Latin American Colonial art, incredible 18th century local Chilean figurines, dozens of glass candleholders made in Europe and Quito, all together make up the important collection of religious imagery. Add to this, valuable liturgical objects and Pre-Colombian artefacts and adornments from the Andean area of South America and Easter Island.
The exhibition starts off with the Easter Island collection in the room named ¨The spirits of Rapa Nui¨ and then recounts the presence of the Order of Mercy here in our country, since their arrival on Diego de Almagro’s first expedition to found the first Mercy Order Mission in 1548. The encounter between European and Aboriginal worlds is represented in the Pre-Colombian exhibits along with others which are the result of the coexistence and confluence of different traditions.
What was once a landing on the staircase up to the second floor, is now an artistic space called ¨Emblems of Faith¨, where you will find an exhibition on crucifixes and sculptures of the Virgin and Saints. On the second floor, in a large space called the ¨Artistic Crossbreeding¨room, you can browse through different types of objects from the viceroyal era which reflect the merging of European and indigenous sensitivities. The religious imagery, painting and silverware all express a form of Latin American Barroque, abundant in gold, silver and colour, in which the images of the saints, particularly those of the virgin, play a leading role.
The sculptures of Saints in polychrome wood, which fulfill an important mission as popular objects of devotion, employ elements of hyper-realism in order to emphasize their proximity to believers: human hair, glass eyes and tears, leather tongues, real teeth and nails, mother of pearl and ivory tendons, wounds and beating hearts are all common in these sculptures.
On the second floor you will also find a room full of glass candleholders, which are figures of baby Jesus lavishly adorned and kept inside glass domes. An exhibit called ¨The Kings Gallery¨ is displayed along the walls of the second floor representing a selection of valuable paintings from Quito.
All of this is set in priviledged surroundings amidst the beautiful convent gardens.
The museum is an excellent cultural alternative for those who attend daily mass in the Basílica on Merced street, or simply for those who are walking through the central part of the city. It is situated in calle Mac – Iver 341.
Public opening hours are Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 to 18:00 and Sundays and public holidays from 10:00 to 14:00. Entrance is free on Sundays. The telephone number is(56) (2) 664 9181.
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Source: Museo La Merced de Santiago de Chile
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