Museum of Memory and Human Rights
History and museums
The Museum of Memory and Human Rights (in Spanish: Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos) is a Chilean museum located in Santiago, dedicated to commemorate the victims of human rights violations during the civic-military regime led by Augusto Pinochet between 1973 and 1990. It was inaugurated by former President Michelle Bachelet on January 11, 2010, which formed part of government works celebrating the bicentennial of Chile.
In her speech on May 21, 2007, before the full Congress, President Michelle Bachelet announced the construction of a memorial museum, and a month later she announced a public competition to select an architectural design for it. On August 28 of that year, it was announced that the winning project belonged to a group of Brazilian architects from the office "Estudio America", located in São Paulo. In 2008, a contest to select the museology company was held, to determine who would be in charge of the operation of the museum; "Árbol de Color S. A." was chosen.
The first stone of the Memorial Museum was laid by President Bachelet, who was also a victim of torture during the dictatorship of Pinochet, on December 10, 2008. The material and documentation that was put together to form the collection of the museum was mostly provided by the organization Casa de la Memoria, whose donation materialized officially on June 16, 2009 at the La Moneda Palace.
Parallel to the construction of the museum, on December 3, 2009, the museum's board was formed, and on January 6, 2010, Romy Schmidt was appointed as its executive director. Finally, President Bachelet inaugurated the museum on January 11, 2010, two months before finishing her term.
The museum houses memorabilia of torture devices used during the Pinochet dictatorship, letters to family members by prisoners in detention centers, newspaper clippings, and testimony from survivors. The museum also includes a philosophical examination of human rights. Chilean popular icon and folksinger Víctor Jara's last poem, Estadio Chile, written in the moments before his death in the stadium during the 1973 coup, sprawls the entrance to the museum.
In 2011, the museum added an exposition about Chile’s indigenous peoples. This exhibition is mainly based around photography.
Bachelet’s successor, former president Sebastián Piñera, visited the museum in 2012.
In 2012, there was an exhibition by ColOmbian painter Fernando Botero featuring drawings and paintings about the Abu Ghraib tortures. This was the first international exhibition since 2010.
In 2012, the museum was host to a human rights-themed film festival, with Chilean and international films focusing on the human rights violations in Chile and Argentina. The event also included panels with young filmmakers, students, and social organizations.
In 2012, the museum also declared it would host a memorial for the victims of the group ETA, a Basque country group that seeks independence from Spain for the Basque region that encompasses northern Spain and a part of southern France.
In 2013, the Foundation Museo de la Memoria and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights signed an agreement to established a network of institutions dedicated to this theme. They plan to coordinate investigation, collaboration, and elaboration of human rights. The agreement will result in conferences and seminars held together, as well as interchange of officials, professional practices, research and publication.