Museum boom planned for Spanish capital

Vast collections emerge: archaeology, ethnographic and waxworks.



The Spanish Ministry of Culture is finalizing a vast reform programme for the state museums.

One of its aims, apart from the refurbishment of rooms and exhibitions, and cataloguing, is to put on public display entire collections of material that until now have been in store. Pre-Colombian and colonial art, ethnography and copies, to which a Madrid museum will be devoted, are set to benefit.

The project is most advanced with the Museo de America, which is located in the university city of Madrid and which has been closed since 1981.

Colonialist in its original approach, it has been completely rearranged and will reopen in 1992 to coincide with the fifth-centenary celebrations of Columbus’s discovery of America.

The Museo de America, whose holdings have been strengthened with new items, the result of successful exchanges with American universities, will be undertaking an intensive research and publishing programme alongside the display of the pre-Colombian collections.

These are as important as those of the Museum of Gold in Bogota, and include a major holding of pre-Colombian ceramics and a curious wax museum, a kind of Madame Tussaud’s of the Conquistadores which comprises some 600 statues of important figures from the colonial era. The Ministry plans to spend 800 million pesetas (£ 4,401,000;$ 7,942,000) over three years on the Museo de America.

Another institution that is affected by the reorganization is the National Archaeological Museum, which shares the Palacio de Recoletos with the Biblioteca Nacional.

A large proportion of its 500,000 items have been in storage since the last century. The plan for its future will be submitted in early 1991 and will cover the organization, cataloguing (which has never been completed) and display of part of the collection, while the remainder will be reorganized in the stores, to be accessible to scholars on request. Some 1,200 million pesetas (£ 6,601,000;$ 11,923,000) has been allocated until 1993.

The plan for the future Museo de la Moncloa of Spanish folk arts and traditions is still at an embryonic stage. It will be housed in the building that currently houses the Museo Español de Arte Contemporaneo in the university city and whose collections will be transferred to the new Centro Reina Sofia.

Its establishment will result in the merger of the Museo del Pueblo Español, the Museo de Reproducciones artisticas and the Museo de Arquitectura, which will share the exhibition area.