Giant leap for MAN in Madrid

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Spain’s national museum of archaeology reopens today after €65m modernisation

By Laurie Rojas. Web only
Published online: 01 April 2014

The Pozo Moro Monument, a tower-shaped stone tomb carved with mythic scenes, at the new MAN

Madrid’s Museo Arqueológico Nacional (MAN) reopens today, 1 April, after a €65m modernisation and expansion project. The renovation has taken six years to complete and the museum, which originally opened in 1871 and houses Spain’s archaeological and natural history collection, has been closed to the public for the past two and half years.

The institution’s director, Andres Carretero Pérez, was hired in 2010 to lead the expansion project, designed by the Spanish firm Frade Architectos. He says the collection display still moves chronologically from the origins of humanity to the 19th century, “but the interpretation has changed, since new techniques have been developed since the last rehang in the 1970s”. This includes multi-media, interactive information walls for visitors.

The overall exhibition space has increased from 7,000 to 10,000 sq. m and as well as new displays, “practically every object has gone through the hands of restorers,” Carretero Pérez says. These include the museum’s rich holdings of Palaeolithic objects, Iberian sculptures, ancient Egyptian mummies, Roman bronzes and mosaics.

One of the star objects in the collection, the Lady of Elche, a stone bust of a woman wearing an ornate headdress found in Valencia and dating to the fourth century BC, will keep its central location on the ground floor of the museum but gets an updated display. Another important attraction is the Pozo Moro Monument, a tower-shaped stone tomb carved with mythic scenes, found in Albacete, Spain and dating to the fifth-century BC, that has been carefully cleaned and rebuilt with the help of about 20 specialists.

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