During our tour around the village of San Pedro de Atacama, you mentioned your longing to visit Gustavo Le Paige Museum.
However, when we reach the center of the Atacama worldview, we learn that it is no longer opened to the public.
Confused, we ask the locals for information and they inform us what later the actual news confirm: the site no longer had the capacity and infrastructure to care for its treasured pieces. Unfortunately, we arrive late for the farewell.
After 18 months of arduous and delicate work, in early 2016, twelve thousand boxes with museum pieces were completely transferred to a temporary facility that will house them for two years.
This trip also included the “grandparents”, nickname given to the mummified bodies preserved in the museum which left the place with a polite ceremony organized by the community.
Gustavo Le Paige, a Jesuit priest, was a pioneer in archaeological research in northern Chile.
In the 50s, when he served as priest of San Pedro de Atacama, he commenced an arduous task in atacameños archaeological and ethnographic collections that would play the major role in the museum: more than 380,000 pieces in total.
In 1963, with the support of Universidad Catolica del Norte, the researcher inaugurated the first pavilion of the landmark building that was now closing its doors.
Although we can’t visit it, we leave happy knowing that the museum was left in good hands.
With a silent ” see you soon”, we said goodbye with the promise to return in two years to meet its renewed 5,000 square meters facet, a fact that would have surely made Jesuit Gustavo Le Paige very happy.