Friday, 5 March 2010

Museo El Huique: Before and After the Earthquake in Colchagua Valley




About 3 weeks ago I went to Museo El Huique. I had been meaning to go for a really long time- it's just the kind of thing I love; an old colonial house with all its original furniture, fixtures and fittings. Rather like a National Trust property in the UK.

The house was built by the Echenique and Errazuriz families and work started in 1829. The chapel was one of the first buildings finished. Over the years, the property was expanded and even included the area's first cinema, built in the 1940s.

In 1967, the reforma agraria cut the Fundo down in size from 6400 hectares to just 40. In 1975, the remaining family members donated the property to the military, which has done a rather good job of maintaining and saving the main house from ruin...

...until the earthquake last week. I passed by a couple of days after the earthquake and was saddened to see the major damage that has been done to much of the property. The chapel spire has fallen and many of the outhouses are destroyed. The gates to the main house were closed but there were workmen there clearing out debris so I imagine the house is in really bad shape as well.

This house had survived many huge earthquakes and even a massive flooding in 1986, when over a metre of water enveloped the property. But, like many other ancient adobe buildings, the earthquake of 2010 proved too much.

It's heartbreaking to see not only the human losses (in life, homes and work) but also the cultural wealth that has been lost forever. These historic properties are a part of the culture in this area of the country, they are part of what makes Colchagua such a beautiful valley and they are worth more than money.

Chile will recover from the earthquake economically but will never recover culturally- and for a new country that didn't have all that much history to begin with, that's really sad.

For more information about Museo el Huique, please visit the official website: www.museoelhuique.cl

Before...







...and after...






3 comments:

  1. We drove out to this museum during our vacation in Chile. We returned home just ten days before the quake. It's so sad to see the damage to the church and the museum as well as to the town of Santa Cruz, where we stayed for a couple of days while visiting the farms and wineries in the area.

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  2. A country can recover culturally, particularly one that is used to this kind of natural disasters. Thats called sustainable heritage for sustainable communities and there are persons, communities and institutions working towards that aim. Ex. Fundacionaltiplano.cl

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