New contemporary art museum opens in historic Spanish city of Cáceres

Collector Helga de Alvear has donated her entire collection of 3,000 works

Helga de Alvear , Founder, Helga de Alvear Museum, His Majesty the King of Spain, Felipe VI, Her Majesty Queen Letizia, and José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes, Ministry of Culture and Sport of Spain, pictured at the inauguration of the museum with Faux Rocks (2006). Katharina Grosse 
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The King of Spain and Queen Letizia officially inaugurated the Helga de Alvear Museum on Thursday, Spain’s newest contemporary art museum, which is set in the heart of the historic city of Cáceres in southern Spain.

One of the most important new contemporary art museums in Europe, The Museum of Contemporary Art Helga de Alvear has been created to house Spain’s most significant private collection of international contemporary art, developed over 40 years.

The collection of more than 3,000 works by more than 500 artists acquired over her lifetime has been donated by the leading gallerist and collector Ms de Alvear to the region of Extremadura, one of the most generous personal gifts of art ever made.

It includes works by Joseph Beuys, Dan Flavin, Joseph Albers, Paul Klee, Nan Goldin, Jenny Holzer, Anish Kapoor, Philippe Parreno, Gordon Matta-Clark and many others, which the public will be able to experience for free in a space that was specially designed to display them.

The new museum is designed by award-winning Tuñón Arquitectos Studio.

It includes spacious galleries and exhibition spaces and is located on a landmark site on an imaginary line that separates the medieval historic centre of Cáceres, a World Heritage site, from the modern part of the city.

Ms de Alvear was born in Germany in 1936 and has lived in Spain since 1957.

She worked for the famous art dealer Juana Mordó who introduced her to many of the leading artists of the day, including Eduardo Chillida, José Guerrero, and the Cuenca and El Paso groups, which played such a significant role in the Spanish post-war avant-garde. Her close relationships with artists led her to begin developing her own collection.

In 1995, she opened her own gallery which championed international contemporary art with a special emphasis on photography, video and installation – at a time when these mediums were practically unknown in Spain.

Exterior of the Museum of Contemporary Art Helga de Alvear. Amores Pictures
Exterior of the Museum of Contemporary Art Helga de Alvear. Amores Pictures

In 1982, she helped to set up ARCO in Madrid, one of the most important international contemporary art fairs.

She was also instrumental in developing the Fundación Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid.

She established the Fundación Helga de Alvear in 2006, with support from the regional government of Extremadura and the city council of Cáceres, among other institutions.

Since then, the foundation has supported, promoted and researched contemporary art, and Ms de Alvear has been honoured with many awards.

The Helga de Alvear Museum was made possible by Ms de Alvear’s desire to share her collection with the public, and it opened to the public on Friday.