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Santiago Cleans Up

ARTS SCENE Like its metropolitan counterparts, Santiago has no shortage of cultural establishments. Although the original Museo de Arte Contemporaneo is under renovation (slated to reopen in December), all MAC events, including an exhibition of 27 artists from last year's 26th Bienal de São Paulo, are taking place in MAC Espacio Quinto Normal (464 Matucana; 56-2/681-8306; www.mac.uchile.cl), a 1920's palace in western Santiago that has more than 100,000 square feet of exhibition space, inside and out. • One of Latin America's oldest museums, Museo de Bellas Artes (Parque Forestal; 56-2/639-1946; www.dibam.cl) is a stunning replica of Paris's Musée du Petit Palais. Rotating exhibitions feature Chilean art from the colonial period through the 20th century; sculpture (60 Rodins are on loan from Paris starting next month); and Frank Stella's Moby Dick series. • Indigenous American art, from Mesoamerica and the Caribbean to the southern Andes, is on view at the Museo de Arte Precolombino (361 Calle Bandera; 56-2/688-7348; www.museoprecolombino.cl; closed Mondays), located in the colonial 1805 customhouse. • The Museo de Artes Visuales (307 Calle José Victorino Lastarría; 56-2/638-3502; www.mavi.cl), on Plaza Mulato Gil de Castro, showcases the work of 220 Chilean painters and sculptors, from 1960 to the present. • Fans of the Chilean statesman and poet Pablo Neruda won't want to miss La Chascona (0192 Fernando Márquez de la Plata; 56-2/777-8741; www.fundacionneruda.org). The former hideaway of Matilde Urrutia, Neruda's mistress and, later, third wife, houses a whimsical assemblage of the poet's keepsakes, including books, curiosities, and paintings, along with the medal for his 1971 Nobel Prize in Literature. • Teatro Municipal (794 Agustínas; 56-2/463-8888; www.municipal.cl) is a Neoclassical French architectural jewel that since its 1857 inauguration has survived fires, earthquakes, and divas of every magnitude. This year's lineup of operas includes a new production of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor.

NIGHTLIFE The word bohemia in Chile refers not to artist types but to all forms of after-dark revelry—be it in basement bars, friendly discos, or groovy lounges. Start the evening at Bar Liguria (019 Luis Thayer Ojeda; 56-2/231-1393; www.liguria.cl), a restaurant by day, swarming social assembly by night. • At Resto-Bar-Club Cavala (9177 Avda. Las Condes; 56-2/243-3079; www.restobarcavala.cl), thirtysomethings mingle over fondue, sushi, and tarot readings. • Hidden in Bellavista is the basement of El Mesón Nerudiano (35 Calle Dominica; 56-2/737-1542; www.elmesonnerudiano.cl), where you can hear live jazz three nights a week. • A few years ago, restaurateur Gino Falcone bought a decrepit hat factory in a sleepy part of Providencia. Now the neighborhood is abuzz with two dozen restaurants. The property is divided into four hot spots, among them Mucca (830 Avda. Italia; 56-2/635-6710), whose aquamarine settees, moody lighting, and martinis make it a favorite with actors, models, and local TV personalities.

CONNIE MCCABE is Travel + Leisure's correspondent for South America.

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