CaixaForum Valencia was conceived eight years ago. In the office of Isidre Fainé, president of la Caixa, in Barcelona. President Ximo Puig confessed it on Tuesday. At first there was talk of a cube inside the Agora, but the reality has proven to be different. Santiago Calatrava's building comes to life with a Mediterranean landscape with references to the Elche palm grove and ceramics. “It is the best CaixaForum”, affirmed the head of the Consell. "It's a dream," Fainé assured.
Subjective assessments aside, it is undeniable that CaixaForum Valencia is located in an iconic building within a highly attractive leisure complex, such as the City of Arts. These conditions allow us to be optimistic about the volume of public during the first year. Elisa Durán, general director of the Fundación la Caixa, spoke of a range "from 500,000 to 700,000 visitors". Calatrava's architecture was notably extolled during the presentation of the cultural center, with the exception of the mayor of Valencia. Joan Ribó was the only one who did not mention the Valencian engineer in his official speech.
The singularity of the Ágora marked the project of Enric Ruiz Geli, architect of the entrails of CaixaForum Valencia. The Catalan architect was satisfied with the result on Tuesday and, like Fainé and Puig, he also referred to the fact that "a dream" has come true.
The Ágora has always been impressive from the outside (its appearance has not changed except for the installation of the evocative 'Palafit' by Valencian artist Anna Talens) and now it is also from the inside. From today Valencians can visit CaixaForum. What will they find? A zoological garden covering the roof of the restaurant-cafeteria, managed by Novaterra; a #Cloud to experiment with artificial intelligence; an auditorium with a cardboard cover (“cardboard theatre”, according to Ruiz Geli) and a roof that claims the protection of forests with a kind of oak wood stalactites, the work of Frederic Amat; a bookstore between a column that emulates a palm grove; some offices, which are accessible to the public, under a ceramic roof (tiles by Toni Cumella... All this is the cultural and architectural dream that was inaugurated this Tuesday at the end of the Turia Garden.
“This is a Mediterranean, coastal project that dialogues with Calatrava's trencadís”, said Ruiz Geli. "It is the first exhibition space with tempered air management," added the Catalan, who made an effort to explain the technical advances applied in the building to save energy.
The general director of the Fundación la Caixa defended the new center as a space where visitors will find "everything they like" and "a meeting point". This idea was also pointed out by Puig and Fainé.
Inside the "enormous whale ribs", according to the president of la Caixa, the Cloud 9 studio, run by Ruiz Geli, creates a "space to be lived in Mediterranean time". The result is a great center "for culture, art, science, the humanities and open to all ages," added Fainé.
CaixaForum is «an «agora of art and thought», according to the head of the Consell, who endorsed the words of the president of the Caixa: «Work, in the head; and the people, in the heart». The new cultural center, which is covered by the visual 'Arc de cel' by the Valencian Inma Femenía, is a "cultural pole of the first magnitude in Europe", stressed Puig, who advanced that the La Caixa Foundation will make an "investment of 300 million in the 50 years» for which the concession is extended. "This is a land of opportunities and favorable to investment," added Puig, who pointed out that CaixaForum "awakens two synergies: through the building itself, in which two architectures coexist, and through being included in the City of Arts and Sciences ».
One more city speech made by the mayor. Ribó was convinced that the CaixaForum "will complete the wide cultural offer of Valencia, which has re-emerged strongly after the pandemic." This new space is, in the opinion of the maximum municipe, "a great cultural container" that will function as "a claim for quality tourism." Ribó highlighted the public-private collaboration that has made possible the birth of CaixaForum and praised the combination of "tradition and future" of the Valencian capital. «CaixaForum fits perfectly with the Mediterranean essence of Valencia», he concluded.
CaixaForum opens its doors with a varied exhibition proposal that looks at the past, the present and the future. Obviously, the new reference center of the city does not want to be a spectacular container without content, it does not intend to live on rents. It has a project behind it, backed by the success of other similar spaces in the rest of Spain. The intention is that throughout the year this cultural complex hosts six exhibitions. It will share programming with its 'brothers' from other cities such as Barcelona or Madrid. Starting this Wednesday, Valencians will be able to enjoy three very different projects: one in which Egyptian culture is the central axis, another made up of works from the Fundación La Caixa collection, but which acquire their own entity at their meeting; and, finally, an interactive exhibition on artificial intelligence. These are the tricks with which this complex is presented to the Valencians willing to conquer them and add one more reason to go to the City of Sciences.
The objective of CaixaForum is to accommodate different activities and themes, to cover a wide range of possibilities associated with culture, for which reason exhibitions of modern, ancient and contemporary art are planned; as well as science and social issues. In addition there will also be space to host concerts and poetry recitals, multimedia art, workshops and social days.
The popular #Cloud, which is a symbol of the new cultural center, offers the opportunity inside to take an interactive tour of experimentation and debate on the opportunities and risks of artificial intelligence in the field of education. Through six research projects, the exhibition explores issues associated with privacy, algorithmic bias, fairness and equal opportunities. It is open until July 23, 2023. The #Cloud is built with lightweight materials: the floor is made of pure fiberglass, with a slight movement to achieve a subtle sensation of floating, of lack of gravity. This piece is connected to the five oceans through real-time data. Depending on their temperature, the light changes from blue to violet.
The exhibition with which it opens proposes a 90-minute walk to experiment and discuss the application of artificial intelligence in learning processes. Participants will develop a critical view of technology to put it at the service of education, ethics and human progress.
In collaboration with the British Museum, 'Pharaoh. King of Egypt' (until February 26), which invites visitors to discover this ancient civilization. Within its cultural programming, the Fundación la Caixa pays preferential attention to the great cultures of the past. The pharaohs, the lords of the Two Lands, were in charge of protecting Egypt from enemies and guaranteeing order in the universe, and CaixaForum Valencia pays tribute to them with an exhibition of 137 pieces. The exhibition explores the symbolism and ideology of the Egyptian monarchy.
The goldsmith works stand out, as well as the monumental statues and the precious reliefs of temples that bring visitors closer to the real life and power of ancient Egypt. Some key objects that have landed in the Agora are the head of Pharaoh Tutmosis III, the statue of the god Re-Horakhty or the figure of Pharaoh Mentuhotep III.
The official opening was attended by numerous faces from politics, economy, society and culture of the Valencian Community. Businessman Juan Roig did not want to miss the first day of the new cultural center; the patron Hortensia Herrero; the former Minister of Science and astronaut Pedro Duque; the head of the Bancaja Foundation, Rafa Alcón; the general manager of À Punt, Alfred Costa; the vice-president of the Fundació Per Amor a l'Art, Susana Lloret; the directors of the Fine Arts and IVAM, Pablo Goznález Tornel and Nuria Enguita, respectively; and the CEO Jorge Culla, among others. At night there was a party with other well-known faces from the cultural field.