The cultural heart of Malaga beats again

Two of the first visitors at the Malaga Picasso Museum on Tuesday.
Two of the first visitors at the Malaga Picasso Museum on Tuesday. / ÑITO SALAS
  • Museums have reopened after more than two months, with a tentative initial response from the public

"We were the first ones on the café terraces when they opened and now we are going to be the first to visit the museum". Despite the white mask she is wearing, you can see from her eyes that Carmen Valor is smiling. On Monday, she and Amparo Quero were waiting outside the doors of the Carmen Thyssen museum as, like others in the city, it reopened after nearly two and a half months. This first week, entry is free.

"We love this museum. We often come to see the new exhibitions," says Amparo. "During the lockdown I watched some video conferences given by the director, and she's fantastic," adds Carmen.

That same artistic director of the Carmen Thyssen museum, Lourdes Moreno, and managing director Javier Ferrer, are waiting inside to welcome the first visitors. "We are feeling very emotional. Every visitor is a cause for celebration for us," says Moreno.

Inside, there are signs on the floor to mark a one-way route through the rooms, and others on the seats to indicate the minimum distance required. There are transparent screens in front of the ticket offices and the cashdesk in the shop. Carmen and Amparo take a quick tour of the collection before heading for the 'Toulouse-Lautrec and the circus' exhibition. "We wanted to see the temporary exhibition," says Carmen, "and then, if we have time, we're going on to the Picasso Museum."

Which is where we went next, and found Carolina Segura waiting with her parents, Sebastián and María Jesús. "It's very nice today. Everything is very quiet and we are lucky enough to have a fantastic guide," says Sebastián, referring to his daughter. "I'm an art historian," she explains.

With Carolina and her partner, Francisco Ruiz, they spent some time examining the designer furniture and decorative items created by Le Corbusier, Fernand Léger and Gerrit Thomas Rietveld, part of the 'Art genealogies' exhibition which ends on Sunday (31May).

Recovering the cultural pulse

From a corner of the ground floor of the museum, its artistic director, José Lebrero, watches the first few visitors who are coming somewhat tentatively to the city's museums and galleries. Under the new regulations, the number of visitors has to be restricted to 30 per cent of capacity and there are none of the usual educational and cultural activities.

"With these restrictions, every visitor is an event in themselves because they are not part of a crowd. What we need to do now is actively promote the fact that Malaga is a city with quality culture, to get the cultural pulse beating again," he says.

On the far side of the Plaza de la Merced, Picasso is also waiting with 'Trozo de piel', the exhibition which reflects his friendship with Camilo José Cela. "We hadn't seen it and decided to make the most of this nice morning to have a look and do a bit of shopping in this district," explains Amparo Díaz, who is there with a friend.

At the Russian Museum, two new exhibitions are about to open, one about filmmaker Andrei Tarkovski, and an expansive display about Russian silent film. "This museum is wonderful, absolutely wonderful," says Fernando Rueda, standing by a selection of posters for silent movies. "At first you think it might be uncomfortable, because of the mask and everything, but in fact you can see an exhibition much better this way". He had taken a quiet stroll along the seafront to the museum in the old Tabacalera factory, and doesn't leave until after midday. What was he planning to do next? "Oh, I think a beer and a tapa are called for, don't you?" he says.

The challenge for MIMMA

Visitors to the CAC Malaga also found new exhibitions, 'Opus nigrum', by Girbente, which opened online last Friday, and 'The Walking Ceiling', a video performance of Alicia Framis in Area 5. Here we found Andrea Fernández and Nahuel Álvarez. "This is the first time we have been out, but we decided to take advantage of the museums opening to start easing our own lockdown," said Andrea,

Visitors have to enter the contemporary art museum through the side door of the old market building, because some of the rooms are closed while a new exhibition is being prepared: 150 works by Juan F. Lacomba, a major retrospective covering the evolution of this artist's work over three decades.

Viewing the permanent collection, 'Passion II', were Mima Agustin, from Slovenia, and her friend Beatriz Aparicio who was explaining the works to her in English. "I'm a painter and I have wanted to come here for ages," said Mima.

The Interactive Music Museum(MIMMA) also welcomed its first visitors this week. "We are happy to be open again but it has been a challenge for us, because we are normally interactive. People can usually touch the instruments but that is prohibited now, so we have had to adapt," says director Miguel Ángel Piédrola.

Staff at the Pompidou Centre on Muelle Uno were also pleased to be able to welcome visitors again, but there was a slight sense of nervousness as they opened at 9.30am and waited to see if anybody came. It seemed a long half-hour before Eduardo Texeira came through the glass entrance doors and was the first person to pass the camera which automatically measures body temperature without them having to stop and be manually checked.

"I read in the paper that the museums were going to open again today and came straight here because I have been wanting to see the temporary exhibition for some time", said Eduardo. "I like all types of art but painting in particular," he added, sounding a little abrupt because he was surprised to find the media waiting at the museum.

Neither audioguides nor leaflets are allowed at the moment, so a mobile phone is the tool to obtain information about the works as you tour the collection at the Pompidou, something that Eduardo did alone until a few other people arrived. One of them was Coloma Fuster, who told us she had gone out for a walk and couldn't resist coming in when she saw the doors were open.

As Eduardo left, he said this was a good time to enjoy some extra culture. "This week, I am going to visit one museum every day," he told us, and he has the right idea. What better way could there be to renew an acquaintance with art and, at the same time, take advantage of the fact that entry will be free until Sunday (31 May).