museums


museums
   Museums play a very important role in the preservation of Spanish culture, both ancient and modern. They range from the largest art galleries to the smallest municipal and subject-specific museums, and from institutions that are financed wholly from public monies to ones that depend entirely on private funding.
   Museums which are funded from the public purse include the semi-independent trusteegoverned Prado Museum and Queen Sofía Museum; national museums, such as the Museum of Decorative Arts, Madrid, the Museum of Roman Art, Mérida, and the Museum of Ceramics, Valencia, which are controlled directly by the Ministry of Education and Culture (see also Ministry of Culture); national subjectspecific museums which are run by the relevant Ministries, such as Defence (military museums), Industry (geology) and Transport (railway); state museums jointly financed by central government and the autonomous regions; and municipal museums financed by the city councils. These publicly funded museums were major beneficiaries of the arts policy and arts funding arrangements of the 1980s and 1990s, whereby existing buildings were modernized and expanded, and new ones built. The Queen Sofía Museum, for example, was established in the refurbished eighteenth century General Hospital of Madrid, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in the renovated Palace of Villahermosa. A National Anthropological Museum was formed by fusing the National Museums of Ethnology and the Spanish People in the former Modern Art Museum and the Americas Museum was refurbished. An architectural plan was devised for the renovation of state museums: the Institute of Modern Art in Valencia (IVAM) is a prime example of major new projects. As a result of the Law of Patronage passed in 1994, income from private institutions and individuals is playing an increasingly important role in the economies of both older and newer museums. Some of the major public museums are supported by associations of friends, and there are many museums which are largely or wholly financed by private monies. These include museums instituted by foundations, such as the Miró and Tàpies Foundations; by business enterprises, such as the Museum of Contemporary Art, Barcelona, and the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao; by the church, such as the Cathedral Museum, Burgos; and by individuals, such as the Lázaro Galdiano Museum, Madrid, and the Museo del Barça, Barcelona. Many of these belong to the Spanish Association of Curators, which publishes a journal, the Revista de Museología. As well as the modernization, refurbishment and creation of musem buildings there has been a noticeable expansion in the number of collections, especially local and ethnological ones, and changes in the style of presentation. More rigorous selection of representative pieces and arrangements by theme or chronological development have contributed not just to the aesthetic pleasure of visits, but to the important educational function of museum collections.
   Further reading
   - Wright, P. (1992) "State of the Nation", Museums Journal, June 1992: 25–33 (a very informative and wide-ranging article on the situation in the early 1990s).
   EAMONN RODGERS

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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