Museum of the “tin king” Simon I. Patiño - Oruro, Bolivia, Rem Sapozhnikov
February 2008
The Palace of Simon I. Patiño who made his fortune on tin production is, of course, a museum pearl of Oruro. But the “tin king” never had actually lived in the palace. Because of problems of domestic nature he and his family left Bolivia and went to remote Germany.

The palace was erected by French architects, that is why everything in the museum is soaked in French spirit – furniture, pictures, knick-knacks, design. For Bolivian reality of the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries the palace Patiño was an unheard luxury, and without a doubt, aroused envy of those contemporaries who had certain weight in “power structures” of Bolivia. So the “tin oligarch” had hard times, he had to be on his guard, so that they would not “strip” you or put behind the bars for preventive purposes.

The visitors of the museum are interested not so much in history of exhibits but in the atmosphere of the palace, its emotional characteristics. There is a constant feeling that its owners are nearby and therefore you peer into the objects of everyday use, personal things of the oligarch and his relatives. The hand of the mistress of the house Albina Rodriguez is felt in everything. She understood comfort and that is why the palace was equipped with technical wonders of that time. You can especially notice it in the kitchen, though the “white line” did not exist then.

The pride of the house-museum is a secretaire made of an ancient cedar, marble and mother of pearl; violoncello made by Stradivari and «orqueston» - a giant size musical center. Such «orquestons» that resembled a complicated inner filling of a space ship, were made in France only in three copies! And all of them as per order of oligarchs or millionaires. Oligarchs and millionaires went bankrupt, and this “musical box” remained as a monument to them.

By association it occurred to me that posh yachts that would be sold for debts to western clients would remain as monuments to our oligarchs...


Continuation :
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