Thu. Dec 12th, 2019

Does a Hermitage make sense in Barcelona?

Actually, the question that gives title to this analysis is only one among the many possible. It could have been formulated in another way:Barcelona must accept the Hermitage project as it has been formulated? Or maybe: "Does Barcelona run the risk of becoming a franchise city?" But also, why not: “Is it in good condition? Culturally anemic Barcelona to say no to a global institution of the prestige of the Hermitage? ”

Seven years after private investors showed their interest in opening a satellite of the St. Petersburg Museum, its director, Mikhail Piotrovsky, has suggested that the proposal has an expiration date. In statements published yesterday by The vanguard
, hinted that if Barcelona does not accept the offer they will look for another destination. In nearby media the project ensures that there are several cities that have offered to host the museum.

The initiative, in effect, generates some doubts in the municipal government. In the next dates there could be a formal meeting of those responsible with the people who lead the project. These are the architect Eugenio Pallarés, chairman of the Hermitage Barcelona Museum council, and its vice president, Jaume Sabater, attached to the presidency of the Swiss-Luxembourg investment fund Varia, which assumes 80% of the project (the minority shareholder is Cultural Development Barcelona) ,.

The board of directors also includes the consultant Xavier Coll, the Russian businessman Valery Yaroslavsky or Buenaventura Ruperti, partner of Ineo Corporate, corporate finance consultation.

Virtual image of the museum designed by the Japanese architect Toyo Ito / MUSEO HERMITAGE BARCELONA

Virtual image of the museum designed by the Japanese architect Toyo Ito / MUSEO HERMITAGE BARCELONA

For some years, the project has been wrapped in a nebula which has not helped arouse sympathy in the city. Part of the lost time can be attributed to a lack of clear interlocution. But in recent months the cards have already been placed on the table.

On the other hand, the chosen location, a plot of the port located next to the W hotel, not just please the municipal officials. For mobility – the chosen place is 20 minutes from the nearest metro stop – and because it is a new building designed specifically for this use by the architect Toyo Ito.

Another question is: can this culturally anemic Barcelona say no to such an offer?

The fact that in the same port there is another building constructed with a very specific purpose, the Imax, which is empty and that is not alien to these repairs It causes headaches to local authorities. Also the complex that housed the cinemas Cinesa Maremagnum is today in the dry dock. Therefore, the City Council would have preferred that the Russian museum project contemplate the rehabilitation of a publicly owned building currently in disuse. The Port of Barcelona has blessed the operation.

The risk that the Hermitage does not take root in the city and end up changing airs cannot be ruled out either. Piotrovski admitted in the interview that “in some places we have been seven years and have had to close due to lack of resources, because it is a very mobile, flexible, not constant system, or can change orbit, like satellites"

But it is precisely that predisposition to flexibility, to change, that Barcelona should explore so as not to miss an opportunity like this. Of course, after demanding the maximum possible continuity guarantees.

In this section you can see the different spaces contemplated by the project / HERMITAGE BARCELONA MUSEUM

In this section you can see the different spaces contemplated by the project / HERMITAGE BARCELONA MUSEUM

The city (its political leaders, its art specialists) should appeal to this flexibility that the director of the Hermitage speaks of in order to ensure that the museum proposal fits the personality of a capital such as Barcelona. If the project thrives, the Catalan Hermitage should not be a satellite anymore, but a museum with its own entity of global projection. That will also help to intensify the relationship between two cities that are eminently cultural.

Make the bold commitment to the art-science pairing that the ill-fated Jorge Wagensberg once formulated With more popular exhibits it could be a formula to explore.

We repeat the question: is this culturally anemic Barcelona able to say no to the Hermitage? Although all the exhibitions programmed by Barcelona's museums today are interesting in themselves and consistent with a line of work, the feeling that the global offer is below the expectations of a city like Barcelona It is increasingly widespread. And the budgetary shortage will continue.

So a good deal with the St. Petersburg Hermitage could animate the offer of a Barcelona that has stopped appearing on the art map.

The project could intensify the relationship between two cities of culture

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