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The Malaga fine art collection makes way for Picasso

Workers remove a painting from the former museum in 1997.
Workers remove a painting from the former museum in 1997. / Rafael Díaz / EFE
  • what happened today?

  • While the Picasso museum thrived, the displaced collection struggled to find a home and remained in storage until late last year

The Malaga Museo de Bellas Artes, the province's fine art collection, closed its doors to the public on 1 September 1997 - the start of a protracted and emotional saga which would only get its happy ending at the end of last year, almost twenty years later.

Located in the Buenavista palace in Malaga city centre, the Fine Arts Museum had to give up its space to the Museo Picasso de Málaga which to this day still occupies the complex built in the first half of the 16th century on the ruins of a Nasrid palace.

While the Picasso museum thrived, becoming the most-visited gallery in Andalucía, the displaced collection (comprising around 2,000 artworks from between the 16th and 20th centuries) struggled to find a home and remained in storage for several years in the Aduana customs house building close to the Roman theatre.

At the time, the director of the Museo de Bellas Artes, Rafael Puertas, said:“The most important thing now is to find a permanent home for the collection.” He claimed that the Aduana building itself was a “perfect” fit for the collection, as well as the province’s archaeological collection which had previously been housed in the Alcazaba.

However, red tape and squabbles between the town hall, regional and provincial authorities over future ownership and running of the new museum meant that the people continued to go without “their” museum.

Nineteen years and several protest movements later and the people now have their museum back.

The Museum of Malaga opened to the public on 12 December 2016.

The restored Aduana boasts 18,000 square metres of exhibition space, more than the CAC, the Thyssen and the Picasso museum combined and unites 15,000 archaeological artefacts and more than 2,000 fine art pieces, tracking the city’s heritage from prehistoric times, all the way through to the 21st century.