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New start for Marbella's leading print museum after uncertainty

Evaristo Guerra photographed in the Museo del Grabado.
Evaristo Guerra photographed in the Museo del Grabado. / JOSELE-LANZA
  • A temporary exhibition of Evaristo Guerra kicks off the 2018 programme but there is still no news on the planned extension

Marbella's leading contemporary sketch and print museum launched its new programme of activities and exhibitions for 2018 last week following three years of turmoil.

The Museum del Grabado, in the Old Town, has some 4,000 works in its collection and is cared for by a public-private foundation that includes Marbella council. It is considered the best of its type in Spain and celebrated 25 years last year. The new programme kicks off with a temporary exhibition of work by Axarquía artist Evaristo Guerra until 5 May.

The museum's catalogue of art is almost matched in length by it's recent catalogue of misfortune. An embargo on its bank accounts was recently lifted over a 100,000-euro debt that had prevented the foundation from running properly. Ironically the money was owed to Marbella town hall, one of its main supporters, after the council was forced to urgently pay to shore up a rundown historic building next to the current museum site.

That building had been earmarked for the expansion of the museum and one million euros of central government funding was made available in 2015 to finance the work needed at the museum.

However the council at the time failed to advance the project, criticsing the Junta regional government for delaying a decision on what pre-restoration archaeological studies were needed on the site. As a result, the rights to funding from Madrid controversially expired and increasingly heated political arguments increased over why the work hadn't been started, at the same time as the council changed hands from the PP party to a PSOE-led coalition.

Galleries closed for a time

In the meantime, the museum had closed in July 2015 in preparation for the extension works, although when they failed to start it reopened almost a year later in June 2016. By late 2016, the new problem of the debt and the frozen accounts brought more uncertainty.

The council and the managing foundation have now reached an agreement whereby the rundown building, now in a more dilapidated state, was given to the council to add to its historic buildings collection in return for cancelling the debt. The plan is still for the museum to occupy it once it is restored, however, Marbella council, now controlled by the PP party again, has said in reply to PSOE criticism, that it won't ask for central government funding until it knows for sure from the Junta when work on the site can start.

The museum, under director, Germán Borrachero, who returns to the helm after leaving 18 months ago, has launched its new artistic programme with the Evisato Guerra exhibition, that includes 90 pieces from a 40-year career. There will be four more temporary exhibitions during 2018. The annual national prize exhibition for sketches and prints organised by the museum will also be relaunched later this year, after being cancelled in 2017. There will also be concerts and workshops.