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Spain - History in the Making (Part 2)

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Malaga: Carmen Thyssen Museum

Description: Carmen Thyssen Museum, Malaga

Carmen Thyssen Museum, Malaga

Baroness Carmen Thyssen- bornemisza already had one museum to her name, the Museo Thyssen- Bornemisza in Madrid, but that was full up with her late husband’s collection and she needed somewhere to show her own. For Malaga, the prospect of Dona Carmen’s artworks residing in the city, alongside its existing 18 museums (including the Picasso Museum the Contemporary Art Centre, and Museums of the bullfight, flamenco, anthropology, music and airports), was too good to miss. So a knocked- about 16th- cnetury mansion was given a dignified overhaul and a modernist annexed- attached rather in the same way as the new wing of the Thyssen- Bornemisza museum in Madrid- and the baroness agreed to display her collection here until at least 2025.

Like all museums based on private collections, it is the passion of the collector, and the idiosyncrasy of her taste, that informs Museo Carmen Thyssen. Its particular strengths are the fascinating byways of Spanish 19th- century art, the proto- Impressionism of Sorolla, the romantic landscapes of Regoyos and Rusinol, the Andalucian costumbrismo of Julio Romero de Torres. If all that begins to cloy, there is always Moner, Picasso, Matisse and Miro; and the Santa Marina by Zurbaran, one of the jewels of the collection, is worth a few minutes of anyone’s Costa del Sol holiday.

Description: Description: A 1920s Citroen in the museum

A 1920s Citroen in the museum

Plaza Carmen Thyssen, Calle Compania 10

(00 34 902 303 131; www.carmenthyssenmalaga.org)

Open tues- Sun, 10am- 8pm. Entrance  fee $9 (concessions $4.50)

Alicante: Contemporary Art Museum

The city of Alicante is not short of museums, but its historic old town, which for years has been crying out for rehabilitation and cultural added- value, desperately needed a facility like this.

The original Palacio de la Asegurada- the city’s oldest civic building, dating from 1685- stands opposite the Basilica of Santa Maria in the heart of the old town. Strictly speaking, the building was recycled: it was already a museum in its previous incarnation. But architects Sol Madridejos and Juan Carlos Sancho Osinaga have swept away the cobwebs of the gloomy old Asegurada with a luminous and spacious new interior comprising four stores of galleries, an auditorium and a library.

Description: Description: Alicante’s contemporary Art museum, MACA

Alicante’s contemporary Art museum, MACA

The new Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Alicante (MACA) is in the nature of a homage to the alicantino painter Eusebio Sempere (1923- 1985), whose collection of Picasso, Braque, Julio Gonzalez, JuanGris, Miro, Tapies and other luminaries of 20th- century art forms the nucleus of the MACA’s permanent exhibition. As election of work by Juana Frances (1923- 1990), Alicante- born and one of the most important Spanish female artists of the 20th century, occupies the second floor.

Plaxa de Santa maria 3 (00 34 965 213 156; www.maca-alicante.es). Open Tues- Sat, 10am- 8pm; Sundays and public holidays, 10am- 2pm. Noentrance fee

Toledo: El Greco Museum

Description: Room at the El Greco Museum, Toledo

Room at the El Greco Museum, Toledo

For many years it was believed that Domenikos Theotokopoulos (1542- 1614), better known as El Greco, once lived in a house on this site in Toledo’s Jewish quarter. After a four- year restoration of the old ‘Casa Museo’, that idea has been dismissed; what remains is a fully fledged museum devoted to the painter and his work. Originally founded by the Marquess of Vega- Inclan in 1911 on order to father the appreciation of a painter who was not then widely admired, thaw museums is the result of fusing a Renaissance palace with a 16th- cebtury town house and 10th- cnetury installations. The design respects the fabric of the building, adds coherence and intellectual rigour to its displays, and creates a serene environment in which to contemplate late El Greco masterpieces including the Apostolate series, the Tears of Saint Peter, the View of Toledo, Christ the Redeemer and Saint Bernardino (on loan from the Prado).

Description: El Transito Synagogue is one of the main attractions in Toledo Spain

El Transito Synagogue is one of the main attractions in Toledo Spain

The permanent exhibition takes visitors through the various stages of El Greaco’s artistic development, with special emphasis on the years 1600- 1614 and his relationship with the Toledo of his time. Works by other artists of the period, Murillo, Valdes Leal, and El Greco’s son and follower Jorge Manuel, as well as fine pottery and furniture, provide a sense of artistic context. Whether the man lived there or not, the house gives a strong impression of the city in its heyday; and gardens, beautifully restored, add to the beguiling atmosphere.

Paseo del Transito s/n (00 34 925 223 665; en.museodelgreco.mcu.es). open tues- Sat, 9.30am- 6.30pm (summer 8pm); Sunday and public holidays, 10am- 3pm. Entrance fee $4,5, free on Saturdays after 4pm.

Best of the rest New Spanish Museums

The Museum of Basque Society and Citizenship in San Sabastian

Museo San Telmo, Plaza Zuloaga 1 (00 34 943 481 580; www.santelmomuseoa.com)

Helga de Alvear Visual Arts Centre in Caceres centro de Artes Visuales Fundacion Helga de Alvear, Calle Pizarro 8 (00 34 927 626 414; fundacionhelgadealvear.es)

European Museum of Modern Art in Barcelona Museu Europeu d’Art Modern (MEAM). Calle Barra de Ferro 5 (00 34 93 319 5693; www.meam.es)

Museum of the Army in Toledo Museo del Ejercito, Calle Union s/n (00 34 925 238 800; www.museo.ejercito.es)

National Museum of Energy, near Leon Museo Nacional de la Energia, Avenida Libertad 46, Ponferrada (00 34 987 400 800; www.enemuseo.org)

The personal museum of inventor, musician, designer and writer Pep Torres in Barcelona.

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