Mónica Fernández, already close to 50 years old, went this Thursday to the Ibero Museum of Jaén, but not to do cultural tourism, but to inoculate herself against the covid. “At least this place is central,” said this Jaen after receiving her first dose of the vaccine on the ground floor of a space inaugurated by King Felipe VI in December 2017, but which today, three and a half years later, still has of museum the name and little else. On the first floor, a few meters from the place enabled as a vaccination point, the more than 300 pieces of the exhibition are exhibited ‘The lady, the prince, the hero and the goddess“ with which this center was opened, a temporary exhibition that, to this day, remains almost the only claim of the one that was once sold as the Guggenheim of Iberian culture and the only thematic museum of this art in all of Europe.
The ghostly Iberian Museum of Jaén turns three years half-empty
The Deputy Minister of Health and Families, Catalina García, assures that this place has been resorted to due to the accessibility and comfort conditions that it presents in the face of the high temperatures that the interior of Andalusia has suffered for days. Access is from one side to what should be the museum’s future cafeteria, while the post-vaccination area has been set up in the huge hall of this mass of more than 11,000 square meters in which the Andalusian Government invested 27 million euros.
When converting this museum center into one of the more than 500 vaccination points in Andalusia, it has been taken into account, above all, that it is a space almost empty of content. Of the more than 72,000 visits it had in its first year, it has gone down to just over 12,000 in the last. “Of course we are facing a huge contradiction, we have the building, but we still do not have the museum’s permanent collection,” says Professor Emeritus of Prehistory Arturo Ruiz, who has just been elected president of the Friends of the Iberians Association.
The Andalusian government invested 27 million euros in an installation that continues to show the temporary exhibition with which it opened in 2017
A year after its inauguration, the museum plan for the center was put out to tender for 5.8 million euros. However, the procedure was paralyzed by the intention of the Government of the nation to include the Ibero Museum of Jaén in the National Network of Museums. The former Minister of Culture, José Guirao, defended this thesis as the best way for it to host state funds. But after the departure of Guirao and the change in the Andalusian Government (PP and Cs replaced the PSOE) the roadmap was changed to try to speed up the process. The priority now is that the Iberian funds of state ownership go to the Ibero Museum, of autonomic ownership. And this is where another paradox arises. “Between the Provincial Museum of Jaén, where the state funds are, to the Ibero Museum there is a distance of barely 200 meters, but moving them seems an impassable border,” says Arturo Ruiz, annoyed.
Most of the collections of the Ibero Museum are state-owned and most of them are in the province of Jaén, whose world hegemony in Iberian art is synthesized in the more than 500 archaeological sites spread throughout its territory. The Junta de Andalucía and the central Executive are looking for ways to resolve this legal obstacle. “You cannot continue like this any longer, this has to start working”, claims Carmen Rísquez, director of the Ibera Archeology Research Institute of the University of Jaén (UJA), a benchmark in the research of Iberian culture. Rísquez says he is somewhat more optimistic after the visit that the Minister of Culture and Sports, José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes, and the Andalusian Minister of Culture and Historical Heritage, Patricia del Pozo made to the Jaen museum in May. At that meeting, both administrations also agreed to request European funds to finance the museum project.
In the meantime, you have to settle for a temporary show schedule. Recently a significant number of pieces of autonomous ownership were incorporated into the center through 11 assignments, among which the Marsal Collection stands out, with 145 large-format pieces and 9,775 cultural assets. Pieces have also arrived from excavations in Iberian places such as Giribaile, Puente Tablas, Piquías, Haza del Rayo or Baécula, and a sample on the late-Iberian burials of the Cerro Maquíz necropolis that allow us to recognize the presence of Iberian and Roman elements in the tombs of the 1st century