The Central Bank’s Building
The Central Bank of Chile was created on August 22, 1925, and, since it did not have its own building, it began operating in a rented old branch of the Bank of Santiago, located on the corner of Agustinas and Ahumada streets in the capital’s center.
However, due to the high level of its activities, it was soon necessary to find a more appropriate place in terms of space and security. For this reason, a site of 3,926 square meters belonging to the Savings Bank of Santiago was acquired, where a building was built especially for this purpose on the corner of Agustinas and Morandé streets, in which the Central Bank operates until today.
In August 1926, after a design contest the preliminary project elaborated by Alberto Cruz Montt together with his collaborator Miguel Dávila was chosen, with a proposal suited to the functions and requirements of the future institutional building, of simple and balanced lines, whose construction began in March 1927 and was delivered in December 1928, opening its doors to the public on the 17th of that month.
Later, it was expanded in the 1940s by the architects Smith Solar & Smith Miller, doubling its Agustinas Street façade.
The style of the building is eclectic neoclassicism and reflects the typological tradition of English bank buildings, which is expressed in the façade, composed of large-scale pilasters, and the decoration of interior spaces, where the use of bronze and marble stands out.
The large bronze-coated door is one of the building’s most striking and renowned features, as it is 6.2 meters high by 3.5 meters wide and weighs 6 tons, according to documents from that period.
The second and most recent intervention took place between October 2016 and February 2018, in the 90th anniversary of its construction. The project’s objective was to preserve the value of the building as a part of Chile’s architectural heritage and to ensure its conservation for future generations. To this end, coatings, stuccoes, ornaments and bronze windows were repaired and recovered, as well as cracks in its exterior façade which posed a hazard for passers-by. A team of experts also carried out an exhaustive and rigorous recovery of the main door.
The Bank’s premises are classified as a Historical Conservation building, a designation that protects buildings of national, historical and architectural importance.
The Central Bank of Chile has one of the country’s most complete institutional collections of Chilean paintings, made up of 315 works by 57 Chilean and foreign painters, mainly belonging to the generation of the mid-19th century and to the first decades of the 20th century, also including, although to a lesser extent, some contemporary artists of more recent years.
Since its creation in 1925, the Central Bank has gradually put together its pictorial collection, which originally consisted of 96 works. Among these, we find commissioned portraits such as that of former President Arturo Alessandri Palma by the painter Coke Délano, a work currently located in the Board Room.
The paintings are displayed mainly in corridors and offices of the Bank’s building, but also in meeting rooms, such as the Herrera Guevara and the Somerscales Rooms. Among these, the Pedro Lira Room stands out, a hall for protocol use housing ten works by the artist.
The Bank’s collection brings together works by artists who constitute landmarks in the history of Chilean art, such as Pedro Luna, Arturo Gordon, Agustín Abarca and Alfredo Lobos, who belonged to the 1913 Generation. The following generation led by the so-called Montparnasse Group is represented in the Bank’s collection by Camilo Mori and Julio Ortiz de Zárate. Both artists greatly influenced what would later be called the Generation of 1928, which stood out for its innovation and which is represented by two female artists: Inés Puyó and Ana Cortés.
The 1940 Generation is also represented in the collection by artists like Carlos Pedraza and Fernando Morales Jordán, who prolonged the vision and technique developed by French impressionist painters in the last decades of the 19th century.
The collection includes works by the great masters of Chilean painting, such as Juan Francisco González, Alberto Valenzuela Llanos, Alfredo Valenzuela Puelma, Pedro Subercaseaux and Alberto Orrego Luco, as well as National Art Prize awardees: Pablo Burchard Eggeling (1944), Camilo Mori (1950), Benito Rebolledo (1959), Ana Cortés (1974) and Carlos Pedraza (1979).
The collection also includes paintings by renowned foreign artists who resided in Chile, such as Enrique Swinburn, Thomas Somerscales, Raymond Monvoisin and Gil de Castro. Finally, although represented to a lesser extent, the collection is completed with the names of more recent artists such as Nemesio Antúnez, Gracias Barrios, Patricia Israel, Ernesto Barreda, Mario Toral, Benjamín Lira and Benito Rojo.
In addition to the responsibility of hosting a collection of this magnitude, which entails ensuring its proper care and conservation, the Central Bank makes a permanent effort to disseminate this heritage through travelling exhibitions, temporary borrowings to other entities, printed and digital publications and opening its doors each year in the context of Heritage Day.
En mayo del año 2012, con la creación de su Museo Numismático, el Banco Central puso a disposición de la ciudadanía una de las colecciones públicas de monedas y billetes más importantes del país poniendo a disposición de todo el público parte de su valiosa colección numismática, con el objetivo de fomentar el conocimiento de la historia económica y aportar al desarrollo cultural de Chile, agregando valor a la experiencia de recorrer la historia, desde la perspectiva de la evolución iconográfica de las monedas y los billetes.
En un entorno moderno, que responde a los actuales estándares museológicos, cerca de mil quinientas piezas de alto valor histórico y patrimonial, muestran la evolución de uso del dinero en Chile, desde períodos previos a la Independencia hasta la actualidad, cubriendo 250 años de nuestra historia bajo una óptica numismática.
El Museo, está situado en el hall de acceso principal del edificio institucional, por el acceso de calle Agustinas, con una superficie aproximada de 180 metros cuadrados, donde se exponen cerca de 300 monedas nacionales acuñadas desde 1749 hasta nuestros días, más de mil especímenes de billetes provenientes de todo el mundo y alrededor de 150 billetes chilenos desde los primeros en el siglo XIX hasta los billetes del Bicentenario. Todas las piezas en exhibición fueron sometidas a un riguroso proceso de evaluación, restauración y conservación, con el fin de entregarle al público la mejor experiencia posible de su visita a un museo relacionado con la historia del dinero
La exhibición de estas piezas se complementa con propuestas interactivas en las que los visitantes pueden apreciar la colección del museo en alta resolución, conocer detalles de los billetes que están actualmente en circulación e informarse de los procesos de diseño, creando sus propios billetes, con una aplicación multimedia.
Lo invitamos a recorrer virtualmente el Museo Numismático del Banco Central de Chile, y a disfrutar de siete visualizaciones que ofrecen una perspectiva en 360º grados del lugar, junto con 32 piezas especialmente seleccionadas para este recorrido virtual.
Previamente las visitas deberán ser agendar en Contacto Central (Tipo Contacto: Consulta - Tema: Museo Numismático - Visitas Museo Numismático, sujeto a la disponibilidad de agenda. Las visitas serán agendadas de martes a jueves de 10:00 a 12:00 hrs.