Easter Island, with its moai and ahu, is itself an open-air museum and its Anthropological Museum is the perfect place to get to grips with its complex history.
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Tahai sin número, Isla de Pascua, Chile
Tues-Fri 9:30am-5:30pm, Sat, Sun & holidays 9:30am-12:30pm
Easter Island’s Padre Sebastián Englert Anthropological Museum is named after the German Capuchin priest who arrived there in 1935 and made it his home until his death in 1969.
In addition to his missionary work, Father Englert took a keen interest in the Island’s history and the Rapa Nui culture, amassing a collection that he left to the state of Chile, precisely for the purpose of creating a museum.
When it opened in 1975, the Museum was just a single room – the “old museum” now used to house the William Mulloy Library – to which the current permanent exhibition area was added in 1985. This was followed by administrative offices, storage space and laboratory facilities.
Today, the Museum, located just outside the town of Hanga Roa, is an active center for research into the Island’s history and culture. It serves as an excellent introduction to the Island’s mysterious past.
The Museum’s Archaeological Collection comprises some 15,000 objects. Key items on display include:
It was always suspected that the eye sockets of the moai were not originally empty but it was not until the late 1970s, during restoration work on the moai on Anakena beach, that the first eyes were discovered. One of these, made of white coral with red volcanic scoria as its pupil, is on display in the Museum. It is the largest found to date.