The Japanese prints, called ukiyo-e, they were ahead of the consumption of current culture: it was not intended for the great elites, but it was a commercial art as Hollywood can be today. They were a mirror on which Japanese society of the time was looked at, hence one of the most recognized postcards is that of Mount Fuji, halfway between the two most important cities of that time, Edo (now Tokyo) and Kyoto. They are relevant documents because, among other things, they serve as visual encyclopedias to understand other realities. And none of them can be seen in Madrid right now: you have to go to Valladolid, where the Oriental Museum is.
Beyond the art galleries of the great capitals, where it is common to see names such as the Prado, the Reina Sofía, the Guggenheim or the MACBA, there is a wide range of cultural offerings that may not include the most renowned artists or the collection better up-to-date, but also of great cultural and museum value. A Russian museum in Malaga, an oriental one in Valladolid, another of abstract art in Cuenca… There are many spaces that escape centralism and that well deserve our interest, whether we live in one of these cities or are passing through.
Obviously there are many museums in the country to compile them in a single article, so we also encourage you to leave your suggestions in the comments section to continue extending this unconventional route of galleries. Let’s get started.
Fournier de Naipes Museum
Where: in Álava (Euskadi).
What will I see: a museum founded by the father of the Fournier playing card factory, that outputs 16 million decks a year. This collection is a historical journey through the cards from the 15th century to the present, at the same time that the techniques for the manufacture of the decks are analyzed and the context in which they were created is explained. For example, there are the ganijfas of India decorated by hand; or the Japanese, which were even used to learn poetry.
Museum of mining and industry of Asturias
Where: in the town of San Vicente, in the council of San Martín del Rey Aurelio (Principality of Asturias).
What will I see: the story of Asturian mining activity since the 18th century and the technological advances derived from the Industrial Revolution in the area. They start from the beginning: explaining the most traditional tools, such as those of human or animal traction to extract materials, until the arrival of the steam engine and the consequent use of coal as fuel for these new mechanisms.
Museum of Human Evolution
Where: Burgos, 15 km from the deposits of the Sierra de Atapuerca.
What will I see: the fossils original from the deposits of the Sierra de Atapuerca. That is to say: human remains of more than 900,000 years that gave rise to a new species, the homo antecessor, considered the oldest in Europe. But they are not limited to exhibiting the bones: they explain what scientific theories are drawn from them and what they mean for society. It is, as they define it, the Rosetta stone of human evolution.
Collection of the Russian Museum in Saint Petersburg
Where: in Malaga (Andalusia).
What will I see: the first Western European headquarters of the State Russian Museum. In it you can see exhibitions that vindicate the culture of a country that, despite its influence and extension, may remain unknown to many. This 2021 its annual exhibition, call War and peace in Russian art, is dedicated to showing the tradition and history of the country through different pieces. They focus on the war theme because, as they affirm, it was so important in the country that it gave rise to its own genre with representations found even in the Middle Ages.
Altamira National Museum
Where: in Santillana del Mar (Cantabria).
What will I see: It is the complementary visit to the Altamira caves, where Palaeolithic rock art from 35,000 and 11,000 BC was discovered. C. that represent a key page in the history of mankind. Its permanent exhibition, The Altamira Times, It is precisely designed to make known how the groups of hunter-gatherers of the Upper Paleolithic and the Altamira cave were 15,000 years ago, since the ability to transmit thoughts through art is something that, as can be seen, comes from very behind.
What will I see: it is one of the best museums of oriental art in Spain. It has objects such as Buddhas, amphoras or ceramics from China and the Philippines from the second century BC. C. until the XIX. Your deposit, as they explain on their website, It is a consequence of the cultural exchange carried out by Augustinian missionaries who traveled to the East and who, when they returned, brought with them the art of the place to which they had traveled. This is how collections such as those of several hundred Ukiyo-e engravings were born, also known as the art of Japanese printing, which is one of the greatest artistic expressions in Japanese history.
Joan i Pilar Miró Foundation
Where: Palma, Balearic Islands.
What will I see: the legacy of one of the most important Spanish artists in history. It collects the donation made in 1981 by Mirón and his wife, Pilar Juncosa, from the objects that were in the artist’s workshops. They can be found from illustrations, paintings or sculptures. Almost 7,000 works that give a good example of the variety of techniques and materials that he used in his creative process, spanning from 1908 to 1981, although most of them are from the 60s.
Spanish abstract art museum
Where: Cuenca (Castilla-La Mancha).
What will I see: Inside the Hanging Houses of Cuenca, although a priori it may not seem so, there is a museum of abstract art founded by the painter Fernando Zóbel. It exhibits a collection of works by Spanish artists from the 50s and 60s, although they also host more recent works, always with an informative sense in their exhibitions. Currently, the sample that can be visited, is a tour of recent art history from 1960 to 2020.
Where: Figueres, Girona (Catalunya)
What will I see: industrial toys and games from the 19th century to the present day. For example, tin toys made in the interwar period, an analog railway model or Catalan cardboard dolls. Furthermore, they endeavor to explain the historical and social context of the objects presented as the of Salvador Dalí’s most beloved toy: a teddy bear that her parents bought as a souvenir in Paris.