SANTIAGO | Museo Nacional de Historia Natural (National Museum of Natural History) is one of the oldest natural history museums in South America, founded in 1830 by the French naturalist Claudio Gay. It’s housed in a beautiful old building in Qunita Normal Park, which was built in 1875 as a pavilion for the Chilean International Exhibition.
Inside, you’ll find a wealth of Chilean and South American artifacts from prehistoric times through to the modern day. The museum’s collection is displayed across 12 permanent exhibits, as well as a series of temporary exhibitions which provide further insights into Chilean culture. The 12 permanent exhibits are:
- Biogeography of Chile, a long tunnel that fills much of the first floor
- Interactive children’s games for terrestrial ecosystems
- The Central Hall exhibits, including a 17-meter skeleton of a blue whale
- Minerals, with an emphasis on the nitrate boom of the early twentieth century.
- Insects, including large fossil dragonflies
- Mesozoic era vertebrates, including a specimen of Carnotaurus sastrei
- Chilean timber
- Chilean archaeology
- Juan Fernández Islands
- Cultural anthropology, covering the Aymara, Mapuche, Selk’nam, Rapanui, Kaweskar, and Yámana. The museum houses the finest public collection of rongorongo artifacts in the world.
- The uses of copper, a collection of Codelco, the state mining corporation
Of particular note is the 56-feet (17-meter) long blue whale skeleton, the world’s largest collection of wooden tablets with inscriptions in hieroglyphics rongorongo from the Easter Island, and Chinchorro mummies, which are over 2,000 years older than those found in Egypt.
Museo Nacional de Historia Natural
Tue – Sun: 10:00am to 7:00pm