El Museo a Cielo Abierto in San Miguel is a set of thirty-seven murals located in the south of the city of Santiago de Chile. There is a colourful mixture of murals and graffiti that fills about 3,700 m2 of the building walls.
The Centro Cultural Mixart was the engine behind this initiative. They worked on this project with a great passion for 3 years in order to transform this otherwise ordinary neighbourhood into an impressive and accessible public art gallery with free entrance, for the enjoyment of the whole community, neighbours and visitors to the area.
Today El Museo a Cielo Abierto is a project that has become the largest collective expression of street art in Chile, with original works developed by leading national and international exponents, from both established and emerging artists. Not only do these artists relish the opportunity to showcase their work on a large scale, but exhibiting their work on the walls of local resident’s houses somehow gives weight to the project and validates their work by the community. Using local people’s walls as a canvas seems to generate a sense of belonging to the mural and its environment.
The first idea of this story came from two parents David Villarroel and Roberto Hernandez who are actually brothers in law. They decided to undertake this adventure together: to change the grey reality of their environment and in time turn it into a tourist icon and an impressive example of reactivation of a community through art.
The development of the murals was a real phenomenon of integration at different levels. On one hand, the neighbours, spanning all generations from grandparents to young children, were curious to see what was happening on their doorstep. As much as possible this community didn’t just support the work of the project and the artists involved, but they also rolled up their sleeves and offered practical help too. Similarly, the artists embraced this spirit of community and were happy to break down barriers which previously might have prevented graffiti artists and the more traditional painters of murals working so closely together, as their styles are often viewed as being worlds apart. On completion of the first ten commissioned murals, the sheer enthusiasm and dedication of the artists was such that the following seventeen art projects were created with a free theme, and without any brief or direction from the organisers they had complete artistic freedom and were given free rein to create art simply for the “love of art”.
In the picture below the icon of the museum entitled “Integration” is displayed: this girl was created by the French artist Seth and by National Chilean Artist Alejandro “Mono” Gonzalez, also Art Director of the project.