If you’re a fan of Spanish art, the Museo Carmen Thyssen should go on your list of must-see art museums in Malaga. Not only does the permanent collection give you a good insight into traditional Andalusian life, the building itself is well worth a visit. Plus the museum holds excellent temporary exhibitions and has a great museum shop.
Why go to the Museo Carmen Thyssen
This is a museum in Malaga to visit if you:
- Are interested in Andalusian art from the 19th century.
- Fancy a look at traditional Andalusian life.
- Like Spanish Impressionism.
- Appreciate fine architecture.
- Love the chance to see works from 1 of the world’s largest private art collections.
Museo Carmen Thyssen – the building
Like other key museums in Malaga, the Museo Carmen Thyssen is housed in 1 of the city’s finest historic buildings. The 16th century Palacio de Villalón Palace includes several fine architectural highlights.
- The Renaissance entrance
- The central columned patio
- The carved ceilings
- Glimpses of the city rooftops through the windows
- The Neopolitan nativity scene in the patio during December
- The ruins of a 2nd century Roman villa in the basement, open to the general public from mid-2018.
Museo Carmen Thyssen – the history
This is one of the newer art museums in Malaga. It opened in 2011 and has since made a name for itself as 1 of southern Spain’s top museums for Spanish art.
The entire collection is on loan from the private Thyssen collection. Put together by Carmen Thyssen and her late husband, Baron Thyssen, it’s widely considered to be one of the world’s largest and most eclectic. A portrait of Carmen Thyssen by Mercedes Lasarte presides the first floor gallery.
Museo Carmen Thyssen – the collection
The permanent collection at this art museum in Malaga contains 230 works, all Spanish and mostly from the 19th century. It’s the largest exhibition of its kind in the world and 1 of the museum’s missions is investigation into Spanish art during this period.
The exhibition begins on the ground floor. Many paintings portray bandoleros in Ronda, typical Andalusian village scenes, fiestas and local customs. Expect lots of dancing and festivities and a good dose of bull fights.
This section has a nod to local life too. The ‘Port of Malaga’ by Manuel Barrón y Castillo, painted in 1847, shows a very different city. And no one would recognise the oil painting of a completely deserted and undeveloped Estepona beach with the rock of Gibraltar behind it.
Upstairs – don’t miss the aerial view of the patio from here – jumps back in time. The collection’s oldest works (some date back to the 13th century) includes angels and a wooden Virgin and Child plus some religious paintings. These include an extraordinary Saint Marina by Zurbarán, 1 of Spain’s finest old masters.
Preciosismo and Naturalism
But the bulk of the first floor collection returns to the 19th century and looks at ‘preciosismo’. Led by Mariano Fortuny, this painting technique explores the finer details in a scene. Masked balls, bull fights and Andalusian patios dominate in the first section along with several richly-elaborated oil of high society dances.
The other half is dedicated to landscape painting led by carlos de Haes. Mountains and seascapes dominate. Another local nod comes in the 2 oils by Guillermo Gómez Gil; 1 of the Port of Malaga and the other, ‘Dusk over the coast of Malaga’.
Fin de siècle
Up on the second floor, the century changes and with it, the style of Spanish painting. Clearly influenced by international genres, the artists in this part of the exhibition look outwards for inspiration.
Paintings are mostly bright and optimistic, and look at both landscapes and everyday life. Highlights include several paintings by Joaquín Sorolla and Zuloaga, 2 of Spain’s most popular modern artists. Cordoba painter Julio Romero de Torres also puts in an appearance.
Museo Carmen Thyssen – temporary exhibitions
The museum holds 2 major temporary exhibitions a year plus several smaller ones. So far, they’ve all provided the chance to see excellent art by Spanish artists as well as international. Van Gogh, Hopper, Matisse, Gauguin and Koons have all put in an appearance. The museum’s website provides full details.
Museo Carmen Thyssen – Shop and café
Like several other art museums in Malaga link, the Museo Carmen Thyssen has an excellent museum shop. There’s a great selection of unusual gifts and an extensive selection of art books. Children’s art gets a good look-in too.
The café has a small and pleasant outside patio, and serves good coffee and cakes. There’s also a very reasonable lunchtime menu, available all week including Sundays.
Museo Carmen Thyssen – Need to know
Location: The Museo Carmen Thyssen is on Calle Compañía 10 (off Plaza de la Constitución).
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 8pm. Last entry at 7.30pm.
Length of visit: allow 1 to 2 hours for the permanent exhibition.
Admission: €10; €6 for entry between 2.30 and 4pm. Free admission on Sundays after 5pm.
- Audioguides available in English (€1.50 extra).
- Disabled access.
- Cloakroom service.
The Museo Carmen Thyssen is just 1 of the excellent art museums in Malaga. Read our guide to the others:
Did you know?
Malaga has well over 30 museums. Read the list of the best and why you should visit them.