The Centre Gabriela Mistral, GAM, is a cultural centre devoted to disseminate and promote performing arts and music. Among many other activities, it offers contemporary drama and dance, as well as classic and popular music a space to continuous development and experimentation. Furthermore, with an emphasis on contemporary photography and popular arts, the GAM houses a range for visual arts. Due to its high demands for transparency, variety and quality, it is orientated to generate direct encounters between artists and diverse audiences.
History Located in the centre of Santiago, the GAM serves as a cultural centre since September 2010 and opens its 22000 meters area to a large audience. Built in 1972 to host the conference of UNCTAD III under the government of Salvador Allende within 275 days, the building still is of great historical importance. The construction of the building is considered an architectural and artistic emblem that, in its conception, significantly influenced its urban environment as well as its society. Thus, short time later, the “Centro Cultural Metropolitano Gabriela Mistral” was found as a social meeting place. After the coup in September 1973, the military closed the Centre and used it as its political centre. 1989, with the return to democracy, the building became a seat for congresses and the tower belonging to the building became the Ministry of Defence. In early 2006, a fire destroyed parts of the building, which led the government of Michelle Bachelet to rethink the original sense of the building and return it into a cultural center, open to the public. Adapting the structure of its urban environment, the building takes on the concept of transparency and many artworks from the original design. The second phase that contains an auditorium with space for more than 2000 is going to start soon.
Heritage Collection For the buildings original design, several artists were asked to create special artworks to be integrated in the buildings architecture. Unfortunately, most of them were dismantled after the coup of 1973. Some of these works are now being restored in the new phase of the Centre Gabriela Mistral. Several sculptures of Sergio Mallol, Sergio Castillo, Marta Colvin and Samuel Román have been reinstalled and the glass roof of the Plaza Central, designed by Juan Bernal Ponce, has been repaired. Juan Egenaus door, made of wood, copper and aluminum, is the access to the hall of popular art and the door latches, designed by Ricardo Mesa, have been reused in the theatres. In the Café are the lights of Ramón López, José Venturellis mural encourages a hall in building B and the water dispenser of Luis Mandiola provides a small refreshment. Ricardo Yrarrázaval's benches that also work as flower planters are located next to the exit by the Ministerio de Defensa and in the aisle that connects Plaza Poniente (Western Square) and Plaza Central (Central Square). A reproduction of the wicker fishes by the craftsman Manzanito hangs impressively from the roof of the Plaza Central (Central Square). And Federico Assler's Conjunto escultórico was reopened on 2013 but will stay closed during the construction of GAM's second phase, a theater with capacity for two thousand people.
Gabriela Mistral Chile’s most famous poet, Gabriela Mistral (1889 – 1957), significantly inspired the work of this cultural centre for her love of words, her democratic conviction and her dedication to education. Born as Lucila Godoy Alcayaga in the small town of Vicuña in north-central Chile, she started writing and working as a teacher and at the age of 15. At 25 she published her first mayor work, “Sonetos de la muerte”, which brought her the Chilean literary award in 1912. She worked as an educator in various cities of Chile until, by invitation of the Mexican government, she travelled to Mexico in 1922 to participate in the educational reform and the establishment of public libraries. From this time on, her life was mainly about writing and traveling: she lived in the U.S., Europe and Latin America, until she started a diplomatic career with the government of Pedro Aguirre Cerda in 1932. After many years in Brasil, Spain, Portugal and the U.S., she was the first Latin American to win the Noble Prize in Literature in 1945. Her most famous works are Desolación, Ternura y Tala and Lagar that was published in 1954. Only three years later, Gabriela Mistral died in New York.