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The National Art Museum of Catalonia wants to consolidate its top position in the Catalan art system

MNAC’s new Director and its new President presented their plan to foster the identity and singularity of a museum known for hosting, among others, the most important collections of Romanesque art in the world. More space, more contemporary artwork and more visitors are the three keywords that will guide the museum’s new stage. Furthermore, the MNAC wants to vindicate its position as Catalonia’s top museum and within the museum’s first division at international level.


19 January 2012 10:04 PM


ACN / Margalida Amengual

Barcelona (ACN).- This week the National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC) inaugurated a new phase in its existence with the public presentation of its new Director, Pepe Serra, and the new President of the Museum\u2019s Trust, Miquel Roca. \u201CWe must be the museum that vertebrates the Catalan art system\u201D, stated Serra when describing the strategy for the upcoming stage. Since its foundation, MNAC had the task of explaining the general history of Catalan art from the Romanesque period to the mid-twentieth century. Despite its importance as a museum throughout Catalonia, both Roca and Serra believe there is a need to physically extend its facilities, to include more contemporary art and to attract more visitors in order to strengthen MNAC\u2019s position, in Catalonia and at international level. Pepe Serra won an international competition to lead MNAC in its new period of existence, after working as the Director of the Picasso Museum of Barcelona. Miquel Roca is a respected lawyer and politician, who was one of the fathers of the Spanish Constitution, representing Catalan nationalism.

January 18th was the date chosen by the new President of the National Art Museum of Catalonia, Miquel Roca, and the new Director, Pepe Serra, to publicly announce the strategy and action lines for the museum\u2019s new stage. Roca stated that \u201Ctoday\u2019s reality is possible thanks to the previous ones\u201D, but he also stressed that \u201Cthe museum\u2019s assets must be valued, and the museum itself needs to be placed internationally, to become a reference museum for the whole country and a living entity\u201D. \u201CWe are hopeful because I believe we can make it\u201D, he concluded. \u201CWe need everyone\u2019s complicity, we cannot give up on anyone, those who know the art world must be accomplices\u201D, insisted Serra.

\u201CWe must do what we can do better than anyone\u201D

The Director revealed a strategy shared by the museum\u2019s team and based on its identity as a unique entity: \u201CIt is our efficiency that makes us work, we must do what we can do better than anyone, we have to be what we can be\u201D. The strategy also aims to encourage knowledge, ideas, research and debate. Influence and social implementation are also important for the museum. It cannot be an \u201Cisolated space\u201D but an example of its own complex model with multiple dimensions. \u201CThe worst that can happen to a museum is to look like another museum, MNAC must be a unique and irreplaceable place\u201D, warned Serra.

The museum\u2019s collection, among which we can find the world\u2019s most impressive Romanesque art exhibition, will be the main and most important action line. \u201CIt is an extraordinary collection with a very low exhibition percentage, it must be exploited and revisited because it has huge potential inside and outside the museum\u201D, said Serra. The exhibitions \u201Cmust be multiple and have diverse formats, the MNAC has to co-produce international exhibitions and also needs to work with living artists\u201D.

Catalan art\u2019s backbone museum

\u201CWe must be the museum that vertebrates the Catalan art system\u201D, said Serra. \u201CWe have a system that can be better structured, that can hold more coherence\u201D, he added. However, the Director and President face the year with a budget cut that may make their projects difficult to carry out, as it drops from \u20AC18.9 million to \u20AC16.8 million. That is why both Roca and Serra are betting on an increase in visitor numbers and the cooperation of private companies, other institutions and individuals. \u201CThis country\u2019s heritage in public hands is a real luxury to have\u201D, stated Serra. The new Director opened the possibility that MNAC would exhibit works of art that are not owned by the Catalan museum but that are on lease or donated. \u201CThe visitors do not care who the owner is\u201D of an exhibited work, he concluded. \u201CMore than ever we need to know which are our priorities, we need to separate the essential from what is an extra\u201D, warned Serra.

The economic situation has not phased the promoters of the museum \u201COur mission is to not give up; others will force us to do it. We cannot be defeated from the beginning but, on the contrary, we have to be willing to adapt to the circumstances\u201D, stated Roca.

Attracting more visitors

\u201COur main obligation is to attract people to the museum because it can have more visitors than it now has. We have to make the most out of our spaces and give them reasons to come to visit\u201D, stressed Roca. This ambition wants to materialise in an enlargement of the museum\u2019s facilities, disclosed the new President of MNAC, who is deciding on two of the pavilions of Barcelona\u2019s Fair in Montjuïc as future exhibition halls.

These two buildings would be home to Catalan contemporary artwork that currently has no exhibition space. Roca, nevertheless, wanted to avoid comparisons with Barcelona\u2019s Contemporary Art Museum (MACBA): \u201CThere have been false claims around the limits between MNAC and MACBA that makes no sense for a national museum. MACBA is a big museum, specialised in contemporary art, and we are not. We do not want to compete against MACBA in contemporary art, but we want to have contemporary art\u201D, concluded Roca.


  • The MNAC's new President, Miquel Roca (left) and the new Director, Pepe Serra (right) (by M. Amengual)

  • The MNAC's new President, Miquel Roca (left) and the new Director, Pepe Serra (right) (by M. Amengual)