In Chile I had the pleasure of visiting the homes of the world’s classiest hoarder, Chilean Nobel Laureate Pablo Neruda. I’ve long loved his poetry (Ode to My Socks truly changed the way I view the world) but I didn’t know much about his private and political life until I visited experienced the Neruda Foundation museums.
Neruda had three homes in Chile, each of which turned into a museum after his death. To get the full picture of his life I visited all three. The house in Isla Negra was by far my favorite, as it has the most beautiful surroundings and is the most authentic; it wasn’t ransacked after the 1973 military coup. An insane number of collectible items fills the house, which Neruda described as his adulthood toy. Neruda collected music boxes, tribal masks, ship figureheads, colored plates and glasses, and hundreds of other objects which he found interesting. In addition, he was a self-taught entomologist, and his Isla Negra home has some of his bugs on display. The home is also Neruda’s final resting place, next to his wife Matilde.
The house in Valparaiso, named La Sebastiana after the house’s architect Sebastian Collado, was the second museum I visited. I loved the home’s layout and the fabulous view of the city.
Finally, I visited La Chascona in Santiago. This house had been inhabited by Matilde for 12 years after the poet’s death, so much of the interior design reflects her style more than his. It was the least interesting of the three museums, and the only one with a live guide rather than an audio guide, but I’m glad I visited as I learned even more about the fascinating life of Pablo Neruda. He seems like an excellent party host and friend, and I would have loved to have known him.
Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), photography is not allowed inside the museums, but I did manage to capture a bit of the atmosphere from the outside.