Perhaps Chile's most important museum is the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino - or Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, displaying 4,500 years of American history on a very human scale.
Housed in the former Royal Customs Palace, one of the city's finest neoclassical buildings, the museum displays thousands of pieces donated by architect and collector Sergio Larraín García-Moreno. Aesthetics were obviously as important to the philanthropist as each piece's historical importance, thus these exhibits really pack a punch.
The cultures of the Andes are represented by some of the finest pieces, but the collection also features artifacts from what is now Mexico, Central America, and the Amazon basin. All are well signed in English and Spanish, offering insight into the hemisphere's human history as a whole.
The Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art is located in the heart of downtown Santiago, a bit more than a block southwest of the Plaza de Armas. Several bus lines depart from nearby, or take the L5 metro (green line) to the Plaza de Armas station.
Groups can request free, guided tours in Spanish or English by emailing the museum one month in advance. The museum's audiovisual library, which includes a noted indigenous music archive, is open to th e public. Only museum members can borrow items, however.