After plans and negotiations that dragged over four years, it was announced last week that Barcelona will open an Hermitage museum outpost in 2019.
According to El País, the developers of the museum—the designer Ujo Pallarés, from the company Cultural Development Barcelona, and his partner, the Russian entrepreneur Valery Yarovslavski from Acceleration Group—will raise a total of €38 million from private donors to finance the project.
The building, which has been designed by the architect Íñigo Amézola, will be erected in the Barcelona port, in a waterfront area that is being developed with luxury hotels and a marina. The museum will have five floors and seven gallery rooms, distributed over 15,000 square meters, and is expected to receive up to 500,000 visitors per year.
Yet, the ethos and curatorial line of the Hermitage Barcelona Museum seem somewhat muddled. Despite the misleading name chosen for it, the director of the museum Jorge Wagensberg stated during the presentation that it won’t be a “franchise” of the famed St. Petersburg museum, although it will make use and display of the Hermitage’s three-million-item collection.
The Barcelona museum and the Hermitage have signed a 50-year agreement in order to secure those loans.
The new museum, Wagensberg said, will build bridges between art and science, and the items borrowed from the Russian museum—including paintings, furniture, and scientific tools and objects—will illustrate a narrative about the human condition.
Tellingly, top members of the Barcelona local council did not attend the public presentation of the private project.
The cultural commissioner Berta Sureda told La Vanguardia: “We value every new cultural initiative, but we are listening for now, and once we know all the details of the projects, we will analyze in depth what it entails.”
The construction of the building will start around the end of the year.
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