The Fine Arts National Museum was inaugurated in 1910.
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Bicentennial Award 2002: Gabriel Valdés.
Bicentennial Award 2001: Nicanor Parra.
Bicentennial Award 2000: Eugenio Heiremans.
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The opening of the Fine Arts National Museum.
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Chile faces 2010
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In the year 2010, Chile will celebrate 200 years of republican life. It should be an excuse to think about the contry in which we would like to live. For the Centennial, there was formed a Comission of Remarkable People, united to think about ideas to celebrate that first Chilean Century in the best possible way. Without that vision, there would never have been works such as the Fine Arts National Museum, the Forestal Park, the Mapocho train station, the railway net, the Tribunals of Justice, etc.

Chilean Cultural Heritage Corporation big project

In 1894 Chile already had a Republican Centennial Comission working. It was formed by big names then: intelectuals, artists, businessmen. All united to create the different projects with which the country would celebrate in 1910 its first Century of independent history. One of their main concerns was the urban issue: public buildings, parks and streets should help transform the city in a meeting place, a democratic space where people would live well. Benjamin Vicuña Mackenna was the greatest inspirator for this idea.

The Centennial Comission was lead by Agustín Edwards McClure, a brilliant businessman, thinker and writer with a great vocation for public service. He was the founder of the newspapers "El Mercurio" (in Santiago and Antofagasta) and "Las Últimas Noticias", and the magazines Peneca, Zigzag and El Pacífico. He was the Congress vicepresident, Foreign Affairs Minister, a founding member of the History and Geography Society and the Historical Academy President.

Years of planning, work, vision and search for an improvement of the country´s life status resulted in large works, all inaugurated during the Centennial anniversary: Jecquier´s National Fine Arts Museum, Dubois´Fine Arts Palace, the Main Post Office fachade, Universidad de Chile´s Engineering School, the Santa Lucia hill renewal, the Tribunals of Justice, the Mapocho train station, a new railway net, among other projects.

The good state of international relations allowed for the giving of big gifts from other countries. There were also big philanthropic works, plus the construction of hospitals and working-class areas. The Centennial´s Main Exhibit, in 1910, was a hallmark that proudly showed the country´s image.

Ten years before Chile´s Bicentennial, the former example motivates us to project our thinking and work to celebrate such an emblematic date. For this, we think there is no better step than to create a Bicentennial Comission, convocated by the Chilean Cultural Heritage Corporation, and which will be a bridge between the public and private worlds.

Its focus should be on patrimonial issues. For that, there are differente projects being evaluated. We have the privilege of having Agustín Edwards Eastman as President of this Comission, a true sign of continuity.

The Corporation´s intention is to motivate civil society to get involved in the beautiful task of re-thinking our identity and our culture, supporting from a private perspective the State work. We have already taken some steps, such as the creation of a Bicentennial Library, for which we have created an Editorial Council in charge of defining thirty to forty titles that represent our identity and that should be put on the stores once again with new editions. We are also preparing the Bicentennial reunions, to be held in Santiago and videotaped for their promotion. This year we have given once again the Bicentennial Award, to highlight somebody´s work for our culture.

(This text was originally published as an editorial of the fifth Information Leaflet, published on may 2002 by the Chilean Cultural Heritage Corporation).


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