by Graham Cruise, ISA Site Specialist for Spain programs
World-class museums are far-reaching all across Europe, from the Musee D’Orsay in Paris to the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence. But tucked in the illustrious Costa del Sol, behest the popularity of other art-epicenters found across the continent, Málaga is a seemingly unnoticed art mecca that transforms Spain’s past into a living reality.
Fifteen years ago, not a single museum graced the historic city-center of Málaga. Today, there are more than 20, with two new ones opening up this year alone.
Casa Natal and Museo Picasso
In the center of Málaga, visitors can peruse the old hallways of Pablo Picasso’s birth house, converted into a museum, where art revelers can stand in rooms once inhabited by this grand artist. Picasso has other museums in Paris and Barcelona, but only in Málaga can you witness both some of his most luxuriant pieces of art and get a glimpse of how he spent his formative years. There are two museums to visit: Casa Natal, Picasso’s birth house, and Museo Picasso.
Museo Carmen Thyssen-Málaga
Located in a 16th Century Baroque palace just steps from the Plaza de la Constitución, one can explore various genres of 19th Century Spanish paintings from the likes of Francisco de Goya and Pablo Picasso at the Museo Carmen Thyssen – Málaga. With nearly 300 works of art, the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza collection is riddled with art representative of Spanish society during the 1800s. As if the art wasn’t impressive in its own right, during museum renovations, archaeologists uncovered Ancient Roman ruins of edifices and fish factories that date back to the 3rd Century that are definitely worth exploring further.
Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga
Art-goers searching for a more modern feel will enjoy what they find at the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga, which houses more than 400 pieces of work in its permanent collection, ranging from punk rock art legend Raymond Pettibon to French-American “Spiderwoman” Louise Bourgeois, whose famous 30-foot spider sculptures can be found all over the globe, (including Bilbao, Spain).
Museo de Málaga
To really bring to life the rich history of Spain’s artistic past, visitors will love the Museo de Málaga, which fuses Málaga’s Fine Arts and Archeological museums into one. The Fine Arts portion boasts some of Spain’s most prized artists, like Diego Velázquez, Francisco de Goya, and Pablo Picasso. The Archeological wing contains more than 15,000 artifacts that date back to 8th Century B.C. all the way up through the Middle Ages.
Soon to open as the only extension outside of France, the unsurpassable Centre Pompidou is expanding its reach from Paris down to the sunny coast of Málaga, Spain. The Parisian extremity, known for its outstanding collection of 20th century art, is branching out to bring another artistic and cultural center to hold more of the gallery’s already-impressive range of art. As architecturally enigmatic as the original, the Málaga extension has been dubbed “El Cubo”, as the upper floor of the center is a completely clear steel-and-glass cube that provides visible skylight to the collection. Construction is set to finish this year (2015).
El Museo Estatal de Arte Ruso de Málaga
Another exciting museum will open its doors this year: la Colección Museo Ruso, which will be St. Petersburg’s first European foothold for Russian art. Situated in an old tobacco factory downtown, this art collection will demonstrate years of Russian artistry, including works by Kandinsky, Chagall, Malevitch and Tatlin.
Málaga is a relatively unknown art hub that, upon first glance, may seem to pale in comparison to the European art capitals of Paris, London, and Florence, but nothing could be further from the truth. Proving its presence in the European art world, Málaga competed to be the 2016 European Culture Capital, only to fall short of the winner, San Sebastián. Whether you’re an art enthusiast or just hoping to find your sun-baked Mediterranean hideout, this breathtaking city in the Costa del Sol is teeming with art and culture.