Museum of Memory and Human Rights
The Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Chile was opened on January 11, 2010 to commemorate the victims of Pinochet’s dictatorship. The project to build this museum was initiated by then president Michelle Bachelet. It features three exhibition floors and a research center in the building’s basement. The museum’s entry hall features photos of human rights abuses and protests around the world, as well as plaques with information about global human rights struggles. The first floor is dedicated to information about the military coup and the tortures suffered by children and adults during and after the dictatorship. The second floor focuses on the search for truth and justice and the national vow to never again let the atrocities of a dictatorship happen. The third floor features different exhibitions related to the dictatorship and the fight for human rights. This is where our arpillera collection and exhibit materials will be installed after we donate our exhibit to the museum. (https://ww3.museodelamemoria.cl/sobre-el-museo/ and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Museum_of_Memory_and_Human_Rights)
In the museum’s basement, there are offices for museum employees as well as archives of donated materials relating to the dictatorship. These archives are open to the public to use for research, and we spent a couple of hours there reading documents and watching interviews recorded by the museum of women who lived through the dictatorship and made arpilleras. These documents have been donated to the museum for researchers like myself, Professor Feinstein, and SUNY-Potsdam student Ryan Hutchins to use in their own projects. Access to these historical archives is critical as it is our job to piece together Chile’s history and present it in conjunction with the arpillera collection from Jubilee Crafts.
Furthermore, the museum maintains connection with many arpilleristas (arpillera makers) and was a key contact for our research purposes to help us secure interviews to use in our exhibit. These arpilleristas made arpilleras during the dictatorship and were all survivors of Pinochet’s regime, making their testimonials powerful oral histories for our research. Many of them continue to make arpilleras today, and some had their work on display in the basement of the museum as part of a project which used arpilleras to represent the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.(https://ww3.museodelamemoria.cl/exposiciones/arpilleras-por-la-vida-y-sus-derechos/)
The museum is a powerful memory site and an important physical space for people to remember the human rights abuses in Chile. It is a place where people of all backgrounds can understand the everlasting impact Pinochet’s dictatorship had on the country and recognize the importance of never again allowing such atrocities to happen.