Culture is more boom than bust in Spain with a flurry of exciting new and revamped museums opening nationwide.

For lovers of museums, Spain is surely one of the world’s happiest hunting- grounds. The range is enormous: the Ministry of Culture can only estimate that there are ‘more than a thousand’ museums nationwide. Even the sleepiest Spanish provincial town has at least one, often devoted to a local product or the birthplace of a local worthy; the province of Madrid alone has 132.

Description: the Guggenhiem Museum Bilbao

The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

And the good news, for those of us who regard mooching around museums as an essential element of world travel, is that this is a boom- time for such institutions in Spain. The fever of museum- building is not easy to explain but its origins clearly lie in the pre- crisis era, when both state and regional governments had money to spend on culture, and in the tourism magnet of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.

Description: the Royal Collections Museum in Madrid

The Royal Collections Museum in Madrid

The newest crop falls into two main categories: architectural makeovers of existing institutions and buildings, and newly created entities in new buildings. Among the dozen or more that opened last year are museums of art, science, history, archaeology, energy, ideas and the army. Among those still keenly awaited is the Royal Collections Museum in Madrid, the work of architects Mansilla + Tunon, whose multicolored Music in Leon was described by The New York Times in 2006 as ‘one of the most astonishingly bold museums to hit the Spanish cultural landscape in years’.

Description: View of the City of Culture of Galicia, at Santiago de Compostela, Spain

View of the City of Culture of Galicia, at Santiago de Compostela, Spain

The most stimulating of them are not necessarily the grandest: the new Cidade da Culture de Galicia in Santiago de Compostela, for example, is widely regarded as a colossal white elephant, while smaller projects including the Helga de Alvear gallery in Caceres and the Antoni Tapies Foundation in Barcelona (splendidly remodeled in 2010) are absolutely worth the detour. An example of modest aims and transcendent results is the Museo San Telmo in San Sebastian, a city museum whose new incarnation brings clarity to much that was mysterious about Basque history- and also brilliantly integrates a church and cloister into thw whole. Some things never change, however. Museums in Spain, even the newest ones, are closed on Mondays.

La Coruna: National museum of science and technology

Description: National Museum of Science and Technology, La Coruna

 National Museum of Science and Technology, La Coruna

This building was a triumph long before it had anything inside it. The ‘crystal prism’ is a light- flooded glass box six  stores high designed by Victoria Acebo and Angel Alonso, admired both nationally and internationally (the project was elven shown at MoMA in new York). Opening shortly to the public, it will form the headquarters of the Museo Nacional de Ciencia y Technologic (MUNCYT), previously located in a cramped former railway station in Madrid.

The MUNCYT is born of the lofty principle that- as a sign in the lobby reads- there is no culture without science, but also no science without culture. The most arresting of the exhibits is the front section of a Boeing 747, 12 meters high and seven wide: visitors are encouraged to poke about inside it. But there is plenty more worth peering at, and pondering: the first car top emerge from an assembly line in 1920s Europe (a Citroen), the first computer to arrive in Spain (it had just one kilobyte of memory), and the first electric light in the Rower of Hercules, the famous lighthouse off La Coruna (A Coruna in Galician). The exhibition, spread over a total of 6,660 square meters, is lucidly displayed according to a series of themes, the idea being to show a small section of the total collection of 15,000 objects at any one time.

For La Coruna, an under visited city on the wild north- west coats of Spain, the new museum is the object of justifiable pride. It is Galicia’s first national museum (the result of a decentralisation policy that has also bequeathed a national ethnography museum to Reruel and a national museum of energy to Leon) and Spain’s first major attempt to place a value on, and feel good about, its own technological heritage.

Plaza del Museo Nacional 1 (00 34 900 100 134; Opening times to be confirmed.

Getaria: Cristobal Balenciaga Museum

Description: The Cristobal Balenciaga Museum in Getaria, Spain

The Cristobal Balenciaga Museum in Getaria, Spain

Here, even those with no time for fashion’s fripperies are forced to acknowledge the greatness pf Cristobal Balenciaga, Spain’s most influential designer. He was born in 1895 in Getaria, a fishing town along the coast from San Sebastian. The hulking black form of the museum devoted to his life and work, designed by Cuban architects Julian Argilagos and Rolando Paciel and set on a hill above the town with views of the sea, opened in June 2011 after a tortured 12- year gestation period involving accusation period involving accusations of malpractice.

The museum’s main theme is the extraordinary modernity of Balenciaga’s designs, whose formal sobriety and technical brilliance led Hubert de Givenchy to call him ‘the architect of haute couture’. The collection is divided into day, cocktail and evening wear, bridal gowns and a ‘greatest hits’ selection of Balenciaga masterpieces. The worlds (one hesitates to call them ‘dresses’) are strikingly displayed and in perfect condition, though they are rather dimly lit.

You do not have to be a student of fashion history to understand the importance of Balenciada. His later creations with grandiose theatrical shapes, are works of art. Christian Dior famously declared that ‘with fabric, we do what we can’ balenciaga does what he wants’. The Critobal Balenciada Museum has been worth the wait: it vindicates a great Basque and Spanish creator and one of fashion’s universal geniuses.

Aldamar Parkea 6 (00 34 943 008 840; . Open tues-  Thurs, 10.30am- 5pm; Fri/Sat, 10am- 8pm; Sundays and public holidays 10.30am- 6pm. Entrance fee $12 (concessions $7.6)

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