Half a century of military history in Malaga

Half a century of military history in Malaga

Exhibition. Javier Chaos, a 39 year old IT expert, has put his collection of Spanish military memorabilia on public display

MATÍAS STUBER

A small door that gives way to a building on Plaza San Francisco opens up a half century's worth of Spanish military history. As you step inside, you are transported from autumn 2021 to the year 1898, a time when the king of the country is Alfonso XII.

A sign that reads "Exposición Tres Coronas" presides over a two-floor space that houses one of the most complete and highly valued Spanish military collections.

The first room is an impressive one, full of mannequins, but rather than be dressed with latest and greatest in fashion, they instead wear a Gran Gala Spanish army uniform from 1909, a military uniform from the first African campaign and a "Rayadillo" uniform worn in Cuba and the Philippines.

"This passion began when I was a teenager. I started buying medals and coats of arms. Then, whenever I could, I kept on expanding the collection," explained collector Chaos.

Now he owns around 220 military uniforms, which are the result of hours spent searching in flea markets and on specialised websites for militaria.

Three different periods

The uniforms are divided into three different time periods.

The first is between 1889 and 1931, with overseas and African uniforms, with their respective changes during Alfonso XIII's reign.

The second period spans the years 1931 to 1939, where the influence of the Second Spanish Republic is apparent in the changes to the uniforms.

Lastly, 1936 to 1948 covers the African military uprising, the Civil War and its immediate aftermath, and the Blue Division's participation in the Second World War.

Chaos knows that in his collection there are real rarities, some of which could be sold for significant sums of money.

"The Blue Division patches, for example, are worth more than the uniform itself," he said.

No economic interest

"I have no intention of making any money from this collection," he said.

As a man of his word, the entry price to this museum is set by each visitor. "Now I let people make donations, only because the tax man wouldn't believe that someone does something out of passion," he explained.

Chaos was born in Madrid but has been in Malaga for several years.

Trading and searching what he considers to be hidden gems has been the beating heart of his life.

But now space is an issue.

"I'm looking for somewhere bigger to exhibit all the uniforms that I have," he said.

"But it's incredible how rent prices have risen again, even for local businesses.

Chaos would like the help of Malaga city hall to find a space for his collection.

To show his commitment to expanding his museum, Javier Chaos decided to approach the local authorities.

The collection's current space isn't well known to the general public and doesn't appear on any of Malaga's museum listings, but it does reveal itself to be a hidden gem.

Chaos knows how unique his collection is. All the uniforms and everything seen in the museum are originals. There is no room for replicas here.