Remodeling of the entrance and hall of the Museum
This spring we have completed the renovation of the Montserrat Museum’s hall, a project that has been developed for a long time and has partially improved the appearance and access to the Museum to make it more attractive to visitors. The new entrance inaugurated in 2004 was half finished. This year 2019 it takes a new dimension thanks, above all, to the restoration of the plaster models set by the sculptor Joan Rebull and its installation on the wall of the main stairs of the Museum, in dialogue with the sculptures that preside over the façade of the monastery.
The placement of these artworks grants a more solemn and artistic presence at the entrance of the Museum, at the same time that links it more strongly with the monastery. The history of these figures goes back to the times of Abbot Aureli M. Escarré, who in 1941 commissioned the urban façade of the Abbey of Montserrat by the Architect Francesc Folguera, and he wished it to be an embodiment of the central values of historic mission of Montserrat: the faith and the nation. The central arcade is dedicated to the Assumption of Mary into Heaven; the one on the left is that of Saint Benedict, since Montserrat is a Benedictine Abbey and a generator of faith and culture; the one on the right shows Saint George’s Patronage of Catalonia. The Architect entrusted the execution of the sculptural part of the façade to the artist Joan Rebull and to motivate him he said that it had to be the “Parthenon of Catalonia”. Rebull accepted the metaphor and arranged three friezes on the balcony (between 1955 and 1960), which represent a procession of Benedictine Monks, with the cleanliness of the lines and the parsimonious eurythmics of the movements of the Pantheon on the Acropolis in Athens. The plaster models made by the sculptor prior to the final carving of the stone, carefully restored in 2019, retain the points and annotations of the sculptor. Displayed at the entrance to the Museum of Montserrat, they permit a close, impressive vision, and a visual dialogue with the definitive reliefs of the façade seen from afar.
Once restored by Policromia, a team led by Pau Ramírez, the installation of plasters has been quite difficult. It was necessary to place a mounting and design some supports, since, fixed in the concrete wall, they provide the sculptures with a solid support, which is complemented by a bolt (hidden from view) that holds each piece in the back. The objective of this action was twofold: aesthetics and security. The wall has been painted in dark grey colour that highlights the white of the figures. The work has been executed by Puigdellívol company, in collaboration with the technical team of the Abbey of Montserrat, during the months of March and April of 2019.
This new lobby, discreet but attractive at the same time, compensates in part for the fact that the Museum suffers from the lack of a façade adequate to the importance of its art collection, since it is located in an underground space under the sanctuary squares. Any museum should try to seduce and invite the potential public that passes by, and this access creates a new suggestive feeling so that the visitor feels that he can’t leave Montserrat without going down to the Museum.
The frieze of the monks has been completed with the installation of the plaster sculpture of the Assumption of Mary, at the end of the staircase access to the Museum. This monumental piece, which fortunately has been preserved, is part of the same set by Rebull and now welcomes the visitor.
From the Museum of Montserrat we understand the concept of museum as “the home of the Muses”, an Agora, a public square where many ways of seeing the world and of expressing it come together. It is a place for meeting and dialogue between very diverse artistic thoughts and expressions, belonging to believers of different religions as well as to non-believers. But we all share an elevated concept of the human being who wishes to transcend their biological, spatial and temporal limits. Women who defy the winds and ascend towards infinity, such as the Winged Victory of Samothrace and the Assumption of Mary, are emblematic of our Museum. Precisely in this production we have also made a new special stand for the Victory of Samothrace, imitating the figure of a ship, which contrasts with the great painting of the painter Josep Niebla entitled God.
The project has been complemented with the replacement of a part of the graphic image of the hall. There is a new element of text that explains the symbolic meaning of the plaster figures. The exterior totem has also been replaced by a large image of the painting Madeleine by Ramon Casas, and the panels announcing temporary exhibitions have been replaced by some vinyl on the museum’s glass doors. The graphic part and the lighting were finished at the beginning of June.
“La Caixa” Foundation, in collaboration with the Department of Culture of the Generalitat (Government) of Catalonia, has paid part of this reform.