Have you ever heard of the concept of “Creative Placemaking?”
I hadn’t until I read Setarra’s blog post on the Neon District in Norfolk, Virginia.
In her post, she described Creative Placemaking as “an initiative, usually overseen by a city or town’s cultural affairs office or council, that uses the arts to rebrand and/or boost the character and economy of a specific area in a town or city – usually, an area associated with low income, lacking in business and/or having a bad reputation.”
Basically, creative placemaking involves using the expression of art to jazz up a “not-so-jazzy” area.
Pretty cool, huh?
I’m pretty sure that I’ve unknowingly experienced an area jazzed-up by creative placemaking in the past, but last weekend, I finally knowingly sought out an area that went through this process, right here in Santiago.
I had learned about the Museo a Cielo Abierto here in Santiago in one of Leah’s blog posts and later read about it again in one of Marcella’s. Considering my love of all things street art, exploring this area was pretty high up on my list of things to do last year, but life got in the way, as it tends to, and I never got around to it. This year, I wasn’t going to let it wait.
Santiago’s Open Air Museum is a true off-the-beaten-path hidden gem. Few tourists or even Chileans know of its existence. Weirdly, even people around the neighborhood seemed to be at a loss. In a nearby café I asked “Saben dónde está el Museo a Cielo Abierto?” AKA “Do you know where the Open Air Museum is?” Their response- confused glares, uncertain shrugs and an indecisive point in a vague direction. I guess I’ll be going with GoogleMaps… Turns out it was right around the corner.
So, how did the Museo a Cielo Abierto come about?
Back in 2010, the residents of Santiago’s San Miguel neighborhood decided that the area and its deteriorating buildings could use a bit of a makeover. With help from the Chilean Government and an organization called “Centro Cultural Mixart,” artists from around Chile were commissioned to come and spruce up this poorer section of the city. A lot of hard work, time and 40 gigantic murals later, these street blocks were transformed into the colorful eccentric open-air art gallery you’ll find today.
The Museo a Cielo Abierto is Chile’s largest collection of street art. The murals reflect Chilean culture and history, express religious and political beliefs and tell the story of the Chilean people, both their struggles and their accomplishments. It’s vibrant. It’s inviting. It’s inspiring and thought-provoking. And best of all- it’s completely free!
I have to admit (and I’m a bit ashamed to say so), but I was a bit nervous to explore Santiago’s neighborhood of San Miguel. When I told my Chilean friends where I was going, most responded with apprehensive, surprised expressions and warned me of the area’s “dangers.” I was told to “keep my camera close” and not to hang around close to dark. Unfortunately, I’ve come to realize that “Santiaguinos,” as they call themselves, are a very classist society. Reputation, usually based on where you come from and where you currently live are extremely important. Certain areas are looked down upon, and those from the “safer neighborhoods” rarely venture outside of their protective bubbles.
Sure, San Miguel was a bit rough around the edges, but the people in the area were more than eager to help, converse and were extremely friendly. I came home with both my camera and my phone, and never once felt uncomfortable. What I learned- don’t believe everything you hear. There are many places, in many cities, where I’d advise anyone to use caution. As a tourist in a foreign place, you’re automatically an easy target. Should that stop you from exploring or seeking out attractions like Santiago’s Open Air Gallery? Absolutely not.
My two favorite murals:
Meli Wuayra by the Aislap Duo
This mural gives life to Chile’s indigenous cultures, including the southern Mapuche, northern Aimaras and the Rapanui of Easter Island. It represents the evolution of the Chilean people leading into the digital age today. Check out the modern man in the bottom left!
Carnaval Latinoamericano by Charquipunk + Larobotdemadera
Charquipunk + Larobotdemadera are two of my favorite Chilean street artists from the streets of Valparaíso. Their art always commands my attention. It’s extremely bright, detailed and always tells a story. This one depicts the Latin American traditional of Carnival, the protagonist allowing herself to connect with her Pre-Colombian origins through music, dance, costumes and most apparently, a mask.
I also really like this one. Why? Pretty self-explanatory.
How to Get to the Museo a Cielo Abierto
If you have cell service, you can plug this address into GoogleMaps: Avenida Departamental 1390, San Miguel. If not, simply take the yellow line of the Santiago Metro (line 2) in the direction of La Cisterna to stop-Departamental. Head south to Avenida Departamental, turn right, continue on about 4 blocks and it’s pretty impossible to miss the massive murals!
Would you like to visit this art gallery? Where do you like to look for street art? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
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Welcome to Wanderful Wednesdays!
Consider yourself a wanderer?! Well then, this Blog Hop is for you!
Meet your hosts: ME, Lauren of Lauren on Location, Van of Snow in Tromso, Isabel of The Sunny Side of This and Marcella of What a Wonderful World.
Here on Wanderful Wednesday we hope to promote an open and supportive community for like-minded bloggers- expats, travelers and all kinds of wanderers!
The linkup will take place every Wednesday at 8AM GMT.
Wanderful Wednesday Guidelines:
- Link up a wanderful travel related post below! One per blogger per week please!
- Spread the LOVE! Blog Hops are all about hopping around & getting to know others within the community! At the very least please try to comment on one other post before you go!
- Let’s get Social! Really liked a post you read? Don’t be shy! Share your favorites on Social Media! You can use the hashtag: #wanderfulwednesday
- Don’t forget to grab the button and link back to your wanderful hosts! Help us spread the word and let’s get others involved!
You can also pin your post to our new Pinterest Board! Let me know if you’d like the invite.
This week I’m highlighting Birthday Magic at Mt. Fuji Shibazakura Festival, by Nano at Travel with Nano B. She wrote such a beautiful post about not getting sidetracked and focusing on your personal happiness- something we could all use a reminder of sometimes! If you haven’t already, be sure to go check out her post and spread the love! Thanks for linking up with us Nano! 😀
Happy Hopping Friends!! 😀