More than a year has passed since the departure of the public monument of General Manuel Baquedano from the Plaza Italia sector. Last March 12, 2021 the statue had to be removed from the place where it had been lying since 1928 (93 years) as a result of the demonstrations unleashed after the social outbreak that caused its deterioration.
After its restoration, thanks to the work of the Montes Becker sculpture workshop, which was supervised by the Council of National Monuments (CMN), the Service National Cultural Heritage and the National Center for Conservation and Restoration, on August 29, the sculpture was transferred to the Historical and Military Museum (MHN) after a request made by the Chilean Army.
Today, the sculptural ensemble of General Manuel Baquedano, including the main sculpture and those that accompanied it (the “Unknown Soldier” and “Gloria”), as well as the commemorative plaque on its front and the two lateral bas-reliefs, which represent scenes of the battles of Chorrillos and Miraflores, is located in the premises of the museum that is located on Almte avenue. Blanco Encalada, 1550. “Thus, the agreement adopted by the Council of National Monuments (CMN) in its plenary session on July 27, 2022, when it authorized the temporary transfer of the sculptures to said dependencies, was executed,” reads a statement from the Council of National Monuments.
“The task of moving the pieces was in charge of the Army, which had to do it with the help of cranes and trucks for four days, between August 26 and 29. All this, under the supervision and advice of professionals from the Technical Secretariat of the CMN and the logistics in charge of the company Yes Cargo”, he adds.
The main piece, which represents the general and his horse, Diamante, was installed in the central courtyard of the MHM on a provisional and removable concrete radier, while the other six sculptures will be temporarily stored in the museum’s warehouses awaiting of an upcoming restoration.
During the morning of this Monday -and behind closed doors- an act of reinstallation of the sculpture of General Baquedano was carried out in the dependencies of the building of the headquarters of the MHM, which was attended by the traditional regiments.
Eduardo Villalon, colonel (r) and former head of the Cultural Department of the Army, attended the ceremony from 10:00 a.m. which he defined as “only in the military field”: “We met with chiefs and former commanders. Everything, in order to pay tribute to this character so relevant to the history of Chile. Even so, I would have liked this activity to be open to the public and for everyone to be able to witness this great restoration work that was carried out,” he said.
Because none of the sculptures are currently on display, Erwin Brevistechnical secretary of the CMN, maintained that “the Army will work on the development of an exhibition open to the public that makes visible the different dimensions of the work of the sculptor Virginio Arias,” he commented.
Although at the time the transfer of the works was defined as something “temporary”, their return to Plaza Italia has once again resonated within the public sphere.
In a letter to the editor published in La Tercera and entitled “Time to return to common sense?”, Villalonmaintains that an installation ceremony should be held during the month of the homeland, with the participation of civilians and military, “so that later it can be visited en masse by students from different educational establishments of the Metropolitan Region, regions and the general public to thus being able to appreciate closely and at eye level, the details of the majestic work that was carried out by national expenditure (…)”, reads the caption.
Meanwhile, from the CMN they comment that there have not yet been conversations about a possible return to Plaza Baquedano. And that, if it does, a proposal should first arrive that must be evaluated by the Council.
Monument of General Baquedano was reinstated in the Military History Museum after 93 years in Plaza Italia – La Tercera