Showcasing Dictatorship

Memory and the Museum in Argentina and Chile

in Journal of Educational Media, Memory, and Society

This article compares two recently inaugurated museums dedicated to the period of dictatorial terror and repression in the Southern Cone: the Museum of Memory and Human Rights at Santiago, Chile (opened in 2009), and the Museum of Memory at Rosario, Argentina (2010). Both museums invoke in their very names the "memorial museum" as a new mode of exhibitionary remembrance of traumatic events from the past. They seek to sidestep the detachment and "objectivity" that has traditionally characterized historical museum displays in favor of soliciting active, performative empathy from visitors. Neither of the two institutions, however, complies entirely with the memorial museum's formal characteristics; rather, they reintroduce modern museographical languages of history and art, thus also challenging the emergent "global canon" of memorial museum aesthetics.