The controversy over the introduction of the Hermitage franchise, coupled with the fact that the numbers of visits to the city’s museums were not made public recently, compels us to think about our museums. Are the museums well in Barcelona? The truth is, we also don’t know how far the Hermitage site has come from, and how it could not have been headed to another destination before, in any case, it seems smart to think of a another location as long as it is – obviously – not going to the amusement park at the Forum. For various reasons, some obvious and others not so many, our museums are mostly located on the perimeter of the city. Some in front of the sea, such as the Drassanes, or the Museum of History of Catalonia, and others, in their equivalent at the foot of Collserola, such as the Monastery of Pedralbes or the Museum of Science. Some have moved to Montjuïc, the Ethnological, the Archeological, then the Miró, the MNAC, the CaixaForum, and it should be remembered that there is a plan to turn the mountain into a kind of campus for museums. Another large group is located in Ciutat Vella and the Raval, such as the Marès, the Picasso, the Museum of History and the most recent ones, the Macba and the CCCB, to which Arts Santa Mònica must be added. So, with the exception of the DHUB (exceptional in every way), we have them in front of the sea, in Ciutat Vella and El Raval, in Montjuïc and a couple in the Eixample.
The central Eixample, in proportion to its weight in the city, has few important museums, the Tàpies and La Pedrera Foundation – as an exhibition hall – and so far the Mapfre Foundation, which we will lose because it moves to the Olympic Village, that is this the real bad news. Finding an alternative to the Hermitage’s location also raised the question of what type of building would be best for these museums. If this has to be a reused building, such as the Drassanes, the Pedralbes Monastery, the MNAC, the CaixaForum, the Picasso, the History Museum, or the Tàpies Foundation, not counting those that are imperative, such as the Casa Batlló, La Pedrera or, now, Casa Vicens, or a new one, as proposed by the Hermitage for Barcelona. So obviously with much more data on the table, it is a question of the city thinking in terms of a plan for the placement of these museum institutions in a two-way manner, in which place in the city and in which building. existing facilities, even though they may be completed with new facilities, as have been cautiously expressed by experts. But without forgetting that a museum today is not necessarily synonymous with open spaces, it can also be a building with rooms like in many houses and buildings, which would undoubtedly serve the purpose.
Museums should also invite you to go for a coffee, lunch, shop, or stay in the lobby as usual.
In any case, it should make us think of the small presence of museums in the heart of the city. The disadvantages of museums in the crown of the city or in Montjuïc are especially relevant. It’s not judgmental in itself, but it’s not that there aren’t a fair number of museums or art centers where we don’t have to go especially “up there.” Museums that are on the usual journeys, not just on Sunday walks. These museums should also invite you to have a coffee, lunch, shop, or stay in the lobby – which has to be urban – as usual, and of course, places a library that can be used and where researchers can go to work. It should be normal to be able to stay with someone. What kind of appointment is staying at the Blue Museum? What can be done except to bring the children with them? Part of the accessibility of museums, which is a crucial issue for their popularity, is that it is natural and easy to enter them, though not always to see their collection. This is why a frank entry is essential, so staff don’t welcome you in a funeral home and are on our daily tours. And in that same order, it is not commonplace to have a museum that looks like an iceberg altered with a torch on a breakwater in the harbor, like the proposal of the Hermitage. Architecture is used to make good buildings and also good museums, not to build buildings. Architecture should also be the art of putting things right in a city, and politics the art of making it possible.