Top 10 museums in Malaga, Spain

Over the past ten years, the Malaga council spent more than €100m on the arts and cultural developments in the city. No more is Malaga known only for its bustling Mediterranean port, beaches, sunshine and tapas; the city now emerges as the cultural capital of Andalusia with an art scene rivaling Madrid and Barcelona. With more than thirty museums and an ever expanding list of galleries and cultural exhibitions, visitors could truly visit a different museum or exhibition daily and still not see everything within a full month stay.

It is only right that this, the birthplace of Pablo Picasso, should establish itself as an internationally reputable hub for the arts. Many of the museums are of a slightly more whimsical nature, such as the Dollhouse Museum, or more niche, such as the Automobile Museum, Glass and Crystal Museum, and the Museum of Wine: as such, there truly is something for everyone.

The city still sees major new openings each year, and with so many museums to choose from, a round up of the most important may be useful for those planning a visit. Below you find a list of the top ten museums in Malaga.

1. The Museum of Malaga

Malaga’s newest opening and the largest art museum in Andalusia, the Museum of Malaga just opened its doors on Monday, 12 December, 2016. Technically, the collection is not new, as it was displaced to make space for the long heralded Picasso Museum. Nineteen years later the museum reopens in a new location after a long and concerted effort by the citizens of Malaga to rehouse this important collection.

Its new home in the old customs house affords the collection more than 18,000 square metres to house some 15,000 archeological artefacts and more than 2,000 fine arts pieces. This comprehensive museum charts the city’s history from Prehistoric times up to modern day. Of particular interest is the rich collection of 19th century Spanish art, including all of the most important painters of the local “Malaga school.”

museo-de-malaga

Palacio de la Aduana, Paseo del Parque.
Free admission, closed on Mondays

2. The Picasso Museum

Though Picasso was born in Malaga, this museum to highlight the city’s most famous son did not open until October, 2003. It immediately became the most visited museum in Malaga and continues so today. The permanent exhibition includes numerous classic and famed paintings through twelve halls; an accessible collection for novices, while aficionados will find enough to keep them excited long after the visit. Beyond the artist’s more recognisable cubist paintings, and pieces from his various stylistic periods, the permanent collection houses sketches, sculptures and ceramics. Three more temporary exhibit rooms round out the experience, and beyond that, visitors can see Roman and Phoenician ruins discovered during the renovation of the building in the basement level of the historic building.

picasso

Palacio de Buena Vista, c/ San Agustin, 8.
Free admission Sunday after 17:00 or for youths under 18 years; €10 full access.
Open Monday to Sunday from 10:00 to 19:00, closed on 25 Dec, 1 Jan and 6 Jan.

3. The Picasso Casa Natal (Picasso birthplace museum)

Located just a few short minutes walk from the Picasso art Museum, the Casa Natal makes for a nice combined visit on a single morning or afternoon. Since its opening in 1998, the building has served not only as a museum of artefacts, mementos and art from Picasso’s childhood and life, but is also the headquarters of the Picasso Foundation and a crucial research centre. In fact, the exhibition of art in the Casa Natal continues to grow and is now an important monument not just to Picasso himself, but to his contemporaries and the changing influences on art throughout his life and including later artists from Malaga. With more than 3,500 contemporary works from 200+ artists, and an unrivalled collection of Picasso’s graphic art, prints, illustrated books and ceramics, the birthplace museum offers much more than just a peek into the baby artist’s bedroom.

casa-natal-picasso

Plaza de la Merced
Free admission on Sundays and for senior citizens and youths. €3 with audio-guide
Open Monday to Sunday from 09:30 to 20:00

4. The Carmen Thyssen Museum

This museum holds hundreds of works from the personal collection of Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, highlighting the various genres of 19th century Spanish art, from Francisco de Goya to Pablo Picasso. Included is a cannon of the most famous of Andalusian artists, such as Malaga’s own Felix Revello de Toro (there is, of course, another museum in Malaga dedicated specifically to Revello de Toro). The Thyssen museum has been a must-see destination for lovers of Andalusian art since its opening in 2011; however, while the main focus is on Andalusian art, there are also many important pieces from outside of Andalusia and even Spain. The building itself is something to see, a 16th century palace refurbished at a cost of €20m.

Plaza Carmen Thyssen, c/ Compañia 10.
Admission: €9 full access; reduced prices for senior citizens and students
Open Tuesday – Sunday from 10:00 to 20:00; closed Mondays

5. The Contemporary Art Museum

Since opening in 2003, the Centro de Arte Contemporaneo (CAC) has established itself amongst the most prestigious and important contemporary art museums in Europe. Its 400 or so permanent works prominently feature some of the most memorable artists of the late 20th century, including a focus on North American artists such as Lichtenstein and Stella. The site also actively promotes the arts through regular guest lectures and workshops, while offering a spotlight for emerging Spanish artists in its temporary exhibitions. Expect quirky and irreverent works here, and once you’ve had your fill, exit into Malaga’s up and coming, artsy SOHO district characterised by sprawling murals and a lively café culture. Don’t miss the first-rate Japanese/Mediterranean restaurant Óleo for lunch, located in the same revamped warehouse space as the museum.

cac-malaga

c/ Alemania, s/n
Free admission
Closed Mondays, 25 Dec and 1 Jan.

6. The Pompidou Centre Malaga

This museum was something of a coup for Malaga city’s cultural planners, the first satellite museum representing the famed Parisian Pompidou centre outside of France. Opened in 2015 and slated for an initial five year residence, the museum has begun to rival the Picasso Museum in terms of annual visitors. The museum houses a limited number of works, with a few rotating annual exhibitions of three to six months at a time; however, the works housed here are exquisite samples from such powerhouse artists as René Magritte, Frida Kahlo, Francis Bacon, and Pablo Picasso. All works are loaned from the eponymous Pompidou Centre in Paris, a collection so large that only a small percentage is ever displayed at one time. The museum also regularly hosts workshops for children, as well as special events focusing on dance, spoken word performances and film arts.

pompidou-malaga

Muello Uno, Malaga port
Admission: Full access, €9, free on Sunday after 16:00 and for youths
Open 09:30 to 20:00 Wednesday to Monday, closed on 25 Dec and 1 Jan

7. The Russian Museum

Opened soon after the Malaga Pompidou Centre, this is a similarly important satellite, or pop-up, museum in collaboration with the St Petersburg State Russian Museum and marks the first installation outside of St Petersburg. Housed in Malaga’s iconic Tabaclera building, an old tobacco factory from the 1920’s that also houses the Automobile Museum, the Russian Museum of Malaga houses a significant collection of pieces ranging from the 15th to the 20th centuries, from Byzantine classics to Soviet era realism. Here you find the titans of Russian and Soviet art, including Kandinsky, Repin and Chagall.

La Tabacalera, Av Sor Teresa Prat, 15
Full access, €8, reduced for seniors and students; free on Sunday from 16:00
Open 09:30 to 20:00 Tuesday to Sunday; closed 25 Dec and 1 Jan

8. The Municipal Art Museum (MUPAM)

Conceived as a reflection of the city of Malaga from the inception of the first City Council in the late 15th century through to the present day, this Malaga museum showcases the best of more than 4000 works that the Malaga town hall itself has amassed over the centuries. The collection includes paintings and sculptures as well as historic artefacts and significant documents. Furthermore, the museum exhibits temporary displays that usually highlight local Malaga artists.

Paseo de Reding 1
Free admission
Open Tuesday to Sunday; closed Monday, 25 Dec and 1 Jan

9. The Flamenco Art Museum

Though places like Sevilla and Jerez claim more important centres of Flamenco song and dance, Flamenco art runs deep in the Andalusian soul and Malaga itself has an important historical relationship with the art form; in fact, the museum is one of the most important of its kind in all of Spain. The Flamenco Museum of Malaga houses a gathering of more than 5000 pieces, half of those comprising a historical collection of recordings dating to the 19th century, along with centuries old guitars, traditional garb representing the various Flamenco forms and Flamenco inspired art and photography.

flamenco-museum

c/ Ramon Franquelo 4
Admission is free with a suggested donation of €1
Open from 10:00 to 14:00 Tuesday to Sunday; closed Monday

10. The Gibrafaro Interpretation Centre

The Interpretation Museum itself is very small and modest. Essentially a military museum, it highlights the history of the Gibralfaro Castle in which it sits. Although the Gibralfaro is a millennia old Moorish fortress atop Malaga’s highest central hilltop overlooking the city and the port, the museum mainly covers the post-Reconquest militaristic history. However, the Gibralfaro itself, along with the Alcazaba, the lower but adjacent Moorish fortification, are like open air museums in and of themselves. Less famous than the Alhambra in Granada, the Alcazaba of Malaga is actually even older and no less important. Constructed on the ruins of a Roman fortification toward the latter half of the 8th century, the Alcazaba served as the main defence point for the city. The Gibralfaro was constructed later, but both together completed a palatial home and solid defensive complex for Moorish rulers for some 700 years and comprise one of the best preserved, fortified Moorish palaces in Spain.

gibralfaro

Castillo de Gibralfaro, Camino Gibralfaro 11
Admission to the Gibralfaro, Alcazaba and Interpretation Centre, €3.55
Open every day from 09:00, closing times vary by season

Alan Hazel is Owner and Director of Cortijo El Carligto.

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Comments (2)

  1. Vlad says:

    So like Picasso and that’s a really great museum. It had a nice variety of his work that I did not know about. Paintings and drawings, of course, but also ceramics and sculpture that was surprising to see. I did not know he was so diversified. Must visit!

  2. Hugh says:

    Yes the Gibralfaro in Malaga is really worth a visit. As Alan says the museum is small but the splendour of the buildings – said to have inspried the Alhambra – speak for themselves.

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