Tours and Activities:
The Dominican’s TreasureMarcos Rodríguez Centro Patrimonial Recoleta Dominica
We toured around the Recoleta Dominica Heritage Center, an interesting group of museums created in the former Recoleta Dominica Convent.
A museum, we might say, is the space where a community keeps the treasure of their past (whether cultural, artistic or of any other kind). It often occurs that a museum finds its place in a historical building; then it is twice as attractive. This is the case of the Recoleta Dominica Heritage Center: inaugurated late in 2005, this museum center functions in a former Dominican convent.
Then, we have to highlight another feature: this building was raised to house meditation and beholding. It used to be a dwelling but also a place of labor and, especially, a place of prayer. That atmosphere is still in the air as we tour around this marvelous venue.
The Old and the New
Not only does Recoleta Dominica Heritage Center contain the relics from the past of the Dominican order in Santiago (a relevant past which spans over two hundred years), but it is also enriched with collections and shows that keep growing and changing.
The venue is made up by three main parts: the Decorative Arts Museum, the Dominican Historical Museum and the Recoleta Dominica Heritage Library.
Decoration and Life
As indicated by its name, the Decorative Arts Museum houses a series of pieces that reflect the art men from various periods and origins used to give shape to the objects that used to accompany them in their everyday life. This is a unique place in its genre in the country.
The collection grew from a donation made by don Hernán Garcés Silva to the Chilean State in 1982. Ever since, however, the heritage has been increasing through several donations.
We can see silverworks, ceramic pieces, glassware, tortoiseshell objects, glazing, Mapuche jewelry, weapons, numismatics and ancient Greek and Roman pieces. Styles range from the Far East to Europe and Spanish America, from ancient times to our day.
There is also an educational room where several workshops are presented.
Following the tour, we reached the Dominican Historical Museum. These six rooms correspond to the ancient friars’. One of them has been rebuilt with its furniture in order to show how they lived.
Besides that detail, we found a collection of objects used by the Dominicans in their liturgical-pastoral functions. From sacred glasses, ornaments and reliquaries to outfits and masterpieces (among which a series of paintings from Quito and religious images from the XVIII and XIX centuries stand out).
Finally, the Recoleta Dominica Heritage Library features an unusual combination: this is a museum-library. With a heritage that reaches almost 120,000 pieces, including maps, posters, magazines and books dating back from the XVI to the XXI centuries, it is interesting both for those who wish to experience the past of printing and for those who wish to sit down to read a book in this environment brought along from former times.
Glass cabinets all around the room show temporary exhibitions made up of books on several topics. But the Heritage Library also has a reading room where some of the bibliographic jewels treasured here may be enjoyed.
Recoleta Dominica Heritage Center is more than a place where visitors (or residents) may learn more about the past of this important religious order in the City of Santiago. Beyond the exhibition of its heritage, this center has a nourished cultural life made up by temporary shows and workshops.
It is worthwhile visiting this corner of Santiago to experience, at least for a while, the Dominican peace.