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Trustees of the Reina Sofia Museum Agree Not to Move Picasso's Guernica
Pablo Picasso's famous anti-war mural Guernica. EPA/NIVIERE.

MADRID.- The Guernica isn’t moving. The Patronato del Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (MNCARS) representatives unanimously agreed during a meeting held this Tuesday evening to not move Picasso’s Guernica from it’s current location amidst the controversy regarding the possible moving of the Malaga painter’s work of art to the Salon de Reinos del Museo del Ejercito project, whose building will be an expansion of the Prado Museum.

The Reina Sofia (Queen Sofia) Museum is located in the old General Hospital designed in the 18th century by Fernando Sabatini under the command of Charles III. The building was declared a historical artistic monument in 1977. Its collection stems from the Spanish Museum of Contemporary Art, from acquisitions from the museum itself, and from donations from artists like Salvador Dalí and Joan Miró. In 2005 the Reina Sofia enlarged its installations from 51,000 to 84,000 square meters. The Reina Sofia is today one of the largest contemporary art museums in the world and exhibits a key work of contemporary art: Picasso’s “Guernica”. The Reina Sofia Museum, along with the Prado Museum and the Thyssen Museum, form part of the Art Walk.

The agreement was unanimous by those present at the meeting, from which five representatives were absent – Claude Ruiz Picasso, Placido Arango, Carlos Ocaña, Mercedes Elvira del Palacio and Fernando Castro Flores – of the 19 members of the museum board of directors (17 representatives, the vice president and the president.)

Besides appealing to the “most delicate state of conservation” and “immense format” of the painting that has impeded “all types of transport” of this piece from the Reina Sofia, the board of the institution argued that in the museum’s collection the Guernica “isn’t considered as just an independent piece but rather as an integral part of the Pavilion since 1937.”

‘This means treason
“The extraction of the Guernica from the Pavilions’ context, and from the collection not only means treason to its historical specification, but also the dismemberment of the union of exceptional significance within the history of contemporary universal culture,” said the Board in a declaration approved this afternoon.

In the same sense, the Board makes reference to the historical and political significance of “Guernica”. “In fact – said in a declaration -, the The Reina Sofia National Museum of Art’s collection is characterized for specifically embodying the social and political commitment of the author, which makes it unique among the great international museums.”

The building’s origin goes back to 1566 when Philip II decided to move all the sanitary and hospital centers into one area of Madrid. As a result, many hospitals were created around Calle Santa Isabel. The area acquired the name of General Hospital. In the 8th century, Charles III hired architect Francisco Sabatini as the designer of a new hospital that combined the many hospitals into one main General Hospital. With the passing of years the building underwent many modifications and finally in 1977 was declared a historical artistic monument.

In 1980 Antonio Fernandez de Alba began the restoration of the building. The work was finished in 1988 with the addition of three steel and glass elevators located on the exterior of the building.

In 1992 the Royal Highnesses King Juan Carlos of Spain and Queen Sofia inaugurated the permanent collection of The Reina Sofia National Museum of Art. Until that moment the museum had only held temporary exhibitions. Since then, it has stayed as the official museum to which great artists such as Dalí and Miró have donated their own works.

The director of The Reina Sofia National Museum of Art, Manuel Borja-Villel, said at the end of the meeting of the Board that since the beginning he didn’t foresee there “being any way possible related to the transportation of the “Guernica”, property of the state and part of the MNCARS collection, according to a declaration of the Board, as it’s "most valuable and emblematic work of art.”

Breaking up of balance and dialogue
The division between the collections of the Reina Sofia and the Prado Museum, was scheduled in the Royal Decree 410/1995 of March 17th, establishes, is remembered in the declaration of the Board,” a dialogue between the past, the present and the future of our country marking as a point of importance in the recovery of democratic liberties.”

“The division of the balance and this dialogue, concludes the text, not only affects the very definition of the Reina Sofia National Museum of Art and the role of contemporary culture in the Spanish society, but also implicates leaving in suspense the explanation point that was placed by the restoration of democracy in our recent history.”

Some of the most representative works of the permanent collection are Picasso’s “Guernica” and Woman in Blue, Dalí’s “The Great Masturbator”, Juan Gris’s “Guitar at the Sea”, and José Gutiérrez Solana’s “The Circle of the Café Pombo”.

The director of the Museum also explained upon leaving the meeting of the Board that during the meeting the importance of the Reina Sofia was seen as a “very dear” center and highlighted that now that the twentieth anniversary of it’s birth is here, the center “enters into a period of maturity on al levels and it is important that the goal of transforming it into a state agency be achieved.

“This will be its culmination,” he emphasized.

Additionally, Borja-Villel pointed out that in the two and a half years that he has been directing the Reina Sofia “the project has been carried out” with which he assumed his position and remembered that the Board is sovereign regarding the Museum’s decisions.

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia | "Guernica" | Pablo Picasso |

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