5 of the best art stops in Mahón, Menorca

The Balearic Islands have been a firm favourite amongst sun-seeking tourists for decades, offering the best of Spanish culture combined with the unique traditions of each island. Menorca – whose name derives from the Latin word ‘Minorica’, meaning smaller island – is known for its more tranquil atmosphere in comparison to the party islands of Mallorca and Ibiza. The island’s capital of Mahón boasts an idyllic landscape, having one of the largest natural harbours in the world. The views of the Mediterranean create the perfect backdrop for lazy lunches and sunset drinks, with lobster stew and locally-produced gin being some of the highlights of Menorcan cuisine. The small city is home to some of the finest Menorcan art, with both traditional and modern examples dotted across Mahón. Here’s our list of top Mahón art stops:

Museu de Menorca

Some 300 years ago, the Franciscans of the Menorcan capital rebuilt their convent after the original was destroyed during the Turkish attack in 1535; today, the Sant Francesc Convent is dedicated to preserving the history of the island, housing the Museu de Menorca. The museum was founded in 1889 by Joan Seguí Rodríguez, but did not acquire its current name and location until the 1970s. The earliest pieces donated to the museum were ancient fragments of Roman graves, fossils and whale bones; the Museu de Menorca today has a collection of over 250,000 pieces, ranging from findings of local archaeological excavations to daguerrotypes of Menorcan residents. The museum also has a permanent display of some of the island’s finest artists, from Joan Font i Vidal to Mitico Shiraiva. To mark the 200 year anniversary of the death of Pasqual Calbó i Caldés – one of the most celebrated Menorcan painters – the museum is exhibiting 45 unseen works until the beginning of 2018.

ENCANT

In the early 2000s, the ENCANT Gallery opened with the aim of creating a platform for local and international artists as well as presenting new and exciting art to collectors. Situated in a renovated building, the historic setting juxtaposes the modern works of the artists displayed throughout the gallery. ENCANT has represented Menorca-native Jose Ángel Sintes for some 15 years, who has been recognised through various awards for his neat and simplistic paintings. The gallery’s current summer exhibition, ENCANT SUMMER, runs until September and features a number of internationally-acclaimed artists. Highlights include British geometric-enthusiast, Piers Jackson, who has been exhibited in the prestigious Tate Britain in London, and Tokyo-born Takeshi Motomiya, who has worked with celebrated Spanish artists like Antoni Tàpies and Miquel Barceló.

Museu Hernández Sanz Hernández Mora

Since 2015, the Hernández Sanz-Hernández Mora collection has been on display in the Ca n’Oliver – a magnificent 19th century palace belonging to the bourgeoisie Oliver family. The building alone is worth the visit, featuring frescoed ceilings painted by Italian artists, elaborate wrought-iron staircases and a watchtower overlooking the harbour. The Hernández Sanz-Hernández Mora collection is an amalgamation of Menorcan furniture, decorative arts, graphics, paintings, drawings, engravings, photographs and much more; the earliest pieces in the collection date back to the 18th century. The Hernández Sanz-Hernández Monjo room is reserved for the works of the family’s relatives, including sketches by Francisco Hernández Monjo and ink drawings by Francisco Hernández Sanz. The museum continues to procure new pieces, incorporating more modern works into the 18th-19th century collection. In July of this year, an exhibition was held to mark the acquisition of La Pintura Nua (The Naked Painting) by Spanish artist Matías Quetglas.

Artist Studio & Gallery Broeschen

In 2005, German artist Anke Carola Broeschen was exhibited for the first time in Menorca; just over a decade later, the Artist Studio & Gallery Broeschen was opened in Mahón. Broeschen – whose artistic background is in abstract painting and ceramics – founded the gallery and studio to educate and promote artists connected to the island. The building in the old town offers courses and workshops in painting, mosaics, sculpture, jewellery-making and photography, as well as a space for artists to work in. These works – alongside the works of Broeschen – are open to the public in the accompanying gallery. The gallery further supports locally-connected artists through the selling process, promoting and exhibiting their works to potential buyers whilst ensuring a fair contract for the artist. The gallery currently represents a number of talented artists, ranging from British jewellery designer, Mira Watson, to Colombian audiovisual director, Fernando Borrero.

Ateneu de Maó

The Ateneu de Maó was founded by Menorcan intellectuals during the early 20th century, aiming to establish a cultural institution which could rival the likes of those found in the mainland cities of Barcelona and Madrid. The institution is devoted to science, literature and art, with the art collection including cartographic prints of both the city and the island, paintings and ceramics. A number of important native artists are currently on display in the Ateneu de Maó, such as Joan Font i Vidal, Francisco Hernández Monjo and José Roberto Torrent Prats. The Vives Hall is dedicated to the post-impressionist landscape works of Josep Vives i Llull, displaying a total of 24 paintings and 6 drawings. Perhaps the most important piece in the art collection is the grand s’Aranjassa altar painting by Pasqual Calbó i Caldés, which depicts various saints surrounded by classical and baroque architecture.

Pontus Silfverstolpe is Co-Founder of Barnebys.

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Comments (5)

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  1. Jay says:

    This looks absolutely incredible! I must admit and say I’m not a cultured man when it comes to artwork, but this looks interesting. It’s getting added to our list!

    Jay

  2. Marisa says:

    I love Menorca, so easy to get to from the UK with so many flights from regional airports these days. There really is no reason not to go. Mahon is a great city, but I didn’t know a lot about the art scene, so this has educated me. I think an art tour would be a great way to spend a few days and broaden the mind culturally.

  3. Alice says:

    I wish that I had read this blog when I visited Menorca a few years ago. We didn’t do our research before we went and as such, found ourselves with little to do other than sunbathe. Nowaways I always take time to read about a place before visiting to find out where to go.

  4. Jane says:

    Beautiful! I love a blog post with a history lesson. I’ve actually been to Menorca once upon a time but I really don’t remember it all that much. Spanish culture is ever so interesting, and I really like the fact that Minorica means smaller island! I hope that fact stays in my head lol.

  5. Rachel S says:

    I’m very impressed with the range of art galleries in Menorca. Will have to visit with my husband as he’ll love this kind of thing. I haven’t been to Menorca yet but it looks like a beautiful place. It’s very easy to get to from the UK and flights aren’t too expensive. Spanish culture and art is so interesting.

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