In our visit to the city of Malaga, we could not miss out on the main museum of this Spanish city, the Carmen Thyssen Museum. Opened in 2011, this museum brings together one of the most important collections of Spanish and Andalusian painting from the early nineteenth century to the beginnings of modern times in the twentieth century. Its collection covers some of the main genres of Spanish art in this period, such as landscape and customs, paying special attention to Andalusian paintings.
The Carmen Thyssen Museum of Málaga is housed in the “Palacio de Villalón”, a Renaissance-style building that was a 16th-century noble residence. The building was restored and enlarged by the City Council to house the Museum and the collection that the widowed Baroness Carmen Cervera had agreed to donate to Malaga.
The restoration of the structure took about four years, from 2007 to 2011, which also included the rehabilitation of two other buildings that would join the Villalón Palace. The central construction resulted in an interior main courtyard structure with a double floor, adding another of reduced dimensions from which the tower of the church of Santo Cristo de la Salud can be seen.
The museum has 285 works that are part of the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza collection. The collection is grouped into four sections: Old Masters; Romantic Landscape and Customs; Precious and Naturalist painting and End of Century.
The Old Masters Room is notable for both its richness and diversity, with works dating back to the 17th century. Here you can find from polychrome wood carvings, belonging to the medieval Italian school, to the work of Zurbarán, Santa Marina, among other works of religious character.
The Romantic Landscape and Customs room reflects the vision that romantic travelers had of Spain, its past, Moorish architecture, gypsy women, bullfights, festivals, flamenco, among others.
The room called Preciosismo y pintura Naturalista is evidence of the evolution that Spanish painting underwent during the second half of the 19th century. In this period works of small format, with a lot of color and with emphasis on taking care of the small details, which is called preciosist painting. As for the Naturalist painting, this refers to the transformation of a romantic landscape in its execution, for the more realistic landscape of naturalism.
The “Fin de Siglo” room reveals how Spanish painting at the end of the 19th century began to become intertwined with international paintings.
In addition, the Carmen Thyssen Museum has an outstanding program of temporary exhibitions, such as the one we enjoyed during our visit, “Painting the Light”. This collection aimed to exhibit canvases where light was shown in all its phases, from landscapes in full sun, as nostalgic sunsets, as well as artificial lights in the middle of the night, made between Barcelona, Rome, Paris, Sitges or Mallorca. An exhibition that reflects the renewal of Catalan painting between the mid-nineteenth century and the early twentieth century.
The museum facilities include, in addition to the exhibition rooms dedicated to the Carmen Thyssen Collection, the headquarters of its foundation, a library, rooms for temporary exhibitions, a didactic classroom, an auditorium, the museum store, the restoration section and an archaeological exhibition room, the latter of which is yet to be opened to the public. This latter room is the result of the discovery during the rehabilitation works in the basement of the palace, where archaeological remains belonging to Imperial Rome were found. The basement of the Carmen Thyssen Museum contains the remains of a Roman domus from the 2nd century with buildings that were renovated and maintained until the 5th century.
The Carmen Thyssen Museum has not only become a center for educational and cultural activities for the city of Malaga, but also as a point of reference to the national museum scene, without a doubt, a great museum.