During the 1970s, Sergio Larraín García-Moreno became increasingly aware of the importance of his collection and of the urgent need to establish an ongoing institution for its permanent and overall care. He approached university and governmental institutions with the intention of donating the collection so it could be exhibited, preserved and expanded.
After several attempts, he received an enthusiastic response from Santiago’s then mayor, Patricio Mekis, who welcomed the idea and began searching for a building to house the institution. Julio Philippi, a prominent lawyer, was entrusted by Sergio Larraín to create a legal framework to establish a stable institution that would protect the Museum”s objects and their integrity, and guarantee their future in accordance with a set of founding principles and guidelines. Thus, the Fundación Familia Larraín Echenique was born, and so named as a way of expressing that the collector”s family, and not the collector himself, was donating the pieces to create a museum for their conservation, study and public exhibition.
By means of an agreement between the Foundation and the Municipality of Santiago, the latter of which provides the building that houses the Museum as well as the funds to cover all of the management and operating expenses, the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino opened its doors to the public in December 1981.
Creating an institution to conserve, study and diffuse the artistic legacy of the pre-Columbian peoples of all of the Americas was a pioneering, and remains a unique, initiative in Latin America.