The Museum of Malaga is the city’s newest attraction – it only opened in mid-December. As well as being housed in one of the most emblematic buildings in Malaga city centre, the Museum houses a real treasure trove of art works and archaeological finds.
The exhibition space along with its long list of exhibits make it one of the highlights among museums in Malaga and a must-see for anyone visiting the city. Read our guide to what to see at the Museum of Malaga, the practicalities around organising your visit plus our pick of the best on show.
Better late than never
The Museum of Malaga has been a long time coming. The last venue housing Malaga’s art and archaeological treasures was the Palacio de Buenavista that closed in 1996 to undergo restoration work for the Picasso Museum. Since then, the thousands of priceless pieces have been stored in boxes, out of sight. Until 20 years later when the new museum opened in mid-December 2016.
This is no small museum. The Museum of Malaga ranks as the fifth largest in Spain and the largest in Andalusia. Its exhibits – both those on display and those behind the scenes – run to thousands and art experts believe the collection to be one of the best in the country.
One of the best things about museums in Malaga is the buildings they’re housed in. Take the Picasso Museum and the Carmen Thyssen Museum, for example. Both are stunning examples of historic palaces. The Museum of Malaga is no exception.
Although slightly younger than other museum buildings, the Palacio de la Aduana makes up in presence for what it lacks in age. Building work for a customs house started in 1791, but a sucession of construction issues meant that completion wasn’t until 1829. The enormous building in a neoclassical style was first used as a tobacco factory before it became a customs house in 1835 and later govnernment offices. This is where foreigners – including me! – had to go to get their work permits before Spain became a fully-fledged member of the EU in the late 1990s.
The Palacio de la Aduana has four floors with a total floor space of 15,400 square metres plus an imposing patio complete with several giant palms, like those outside the main entrance. All this space, floored in quality parquet and based around a stunning central stairwell, turns out to be perfect for a museum.
What’s on show at the Museum of Malaga
A lot is the short answer. The Museum has 15,000 archaeological pieces in its stores and 2,000 are on display. Visitors can see 200 of the 2,000 art works. All are spread over 2 floors and (we think) exceptionally well curated.
The Museum suggests you start your visit on the second floor, home to the treasures unearthed at different places in Malaga province. This floor starts with the Casa-Loring collection, a unique set of Roman sculptures and the origin of the Museum of Malaga. Originally housed in the Concepción Botanical Gardens, this lovely display of Roman marble welcomes visitors and provides the starting point.
You then travel further back in time to prehistoric times in Malaga – don’t miss the video showcasing key cave paintings. The Phoenicians are next and finds here include an extraordinary Corinthian-style helmet from 600BC found in Calle Jinetes near the Cervantes Theatre.
The Romans take pride of place in the largest gallery where the Moorish presence in Malaga share the limelight. We liked the mosaics and the dry-cord technique on the pottery.
On the first floor – on your way down, don’t miss the central stairwell light showcasing the best archaeological sites in Malaga province – art takes centre stage. Unless you’re a local or a fan of Malaga art you probably won’t recognise many of the artists on display here, but don’t let the lack of famous names put you off. There’s a wealth of local talent here, particularly from the 19th century when Malaga was one of the art centres in Spain.
Make your way through religious paintings and artefacts – don’t miss the 16th century ceiling corbels – to seascapes, Impressionist-type works and an impressive display of modern art. Picasso features, of course, and there’s an interesting section on his influence on local artist José Moreno Villa.
Malaga city features in surprisingly few works. Don’t miss the Allegory of Malaga showing key monuments for 19th century citizens and La Corracha depicting the Alcazaba Fortress in the 19th century when it was a residential area.
Guide to Malaga’s highlights at the Museum of Malaga
- Top of our list of highlights is the space itself. Like the Pompidou Centre, the museum has excellent lighting and every piece is displayed perfectly.
- English translations – unusually for Spanish museums, the English translations at the Museum of Malaga are perfect.
- The ‘Who’s who’ behind the museum – key figures in the making of the museum or its contents get a mention together with a brief biography and their connection with the museum.
- The Corinthian Helmet
- Allegory of Malaga (Ferrándiz y Badenas, Muñoz Degrain, 1870)
- Old Man with blanket (Picasso, 1895)
- And she had a heart! (Simonet, 1870)
- Interior patio at night
Museum of Malaga Practicalities
Length of visit – Allow at least one hour to visit the Museum of Malaga. If you want to see the exhibits in detail, allow at least 2.
Opening times – 16 Sept-15 June Tuesday to Saturday 9am to 8.30pm; Sunday 9am to 3.30pm | 16 June-15 Sept Tuesday to Sunday 9am to 3.30pm.
Admission – Free for EU citizens (you may need to show proof), €1.50 for non-EU citizens.
Suitability for children – this isn’t an interactive museum and there’s nothing to touch so not the best thing to see in Malaga with children.
Accessibility – All areas of the museum are fully accessible.
Shop – The Museum shop has a good selection of gifts and souvenirs including a range of postcards.
Café and restaurant – Opening is scheduled for mid-2018. The restaurant will be on the fourth floor with stunning views of the Alcazaba.