Centro de Artes Visuales Fundación Helga de Alvear


The Helga de Alvear Museum celebrates its first anniversary with more than 100,000 visitors

Since the new Helga de Alvear Museum of Contemporary Art opened its doors in Cáceres just a year ago, on February 25, 2021, more than 100,000 people have visited the institution, a figure that acquires even more value considering the complex environment generated by the COVID-19 pandemic. During the first weeks of opening of the Museum, restrictions were still in force regarding mobility between communities and, in the international context, many countries kept measures that made it difficult or even prevented travel to Spain during the summer season. In addition, in order to guarantee a safe culture, the Museum imposed capacity reduction measures that are still in force today and that caused, on certain key dates, that the demand for visits exceeded the places offered. However, despite the challenges arising from the pandemic, the new museum space has managed to carry out its programming, attracting a total of 100,048 people.

Beyond this figure, in this first year of operation, the cultural institution has demonstrated its ability to achieve the goal dreamed by its promoter: to bring contemporary art closer to today’s society and to future generations. The success in achieving this goal is reflected in the reception of the inaugural exhibition, the temporary exhibitions and the programming by the local, national and international public. In the last 12 months, 9,033 people have enjoyed a total of 688 guided tours and activities for free, the Museum has organized 27 accessible activities tailored for more than 300 people with different types of disabilities and 912 boys and girls aged 6 and 12 years have participated in 80 different creative workshops inspired by works and artists from the Collection.

The number of students, from primary to high school, who have known the Helga de Alvear Collection through tailor-made visits or educational workshops amounts to 2,072 girls, boys and young people. “It has been fantastic to see that people are interested in contemporary art and that young children from Cáceres go to the workshops. For me it is very important that from a young age they are educated to go to galleries, to visit other museums as well… The goal is that everyone can fall in love with the works like me, that they can see the Collection and discover how enriching contemporary art is , and it is something that is already being achieved”, says Helga de Alvear.

Personalities from the world of culture, politics and the arts, such as the architects Norman Foster and Rafael Moneo, the artists Ai Weiwei or Thomas Hirschhorn, the writer Ian Gibson or the filmmaker Isabel Coixet, among others, have already come to Cáceres to enjoy the Helga de Alvear Collection and the institution hopes to continue expanding the number of visits by artists and personalities from the international scene in the coming years.

In addition, this first year of opening has been full of awards and recognitions: the Cáceres Museum is one of the most outstanding cultural projects of the year according to the report of the Observatory of Culture and is a candidate for Best European Museum of the Year. The prestigious TIME magazine placed Cáceres as one of the best places in 2021 with a photograph of the Museum and other publications, such as National Geographic or Condé Nast Traveler, recommend a visit to the capital of Cáceres, which this summer broke historical visitor records.

To date, the inaugural exhibition, curated by José María Viñuela, has made it possible to display around 5% of the total Helga de Alvear Collection, made up of more than 3,000 works of contemporary art. The rooms of the new building house some works that have already become icons for the Museum and the city of Cáceres, such as ‘Descending Light’ (2007) by Ai Weiwei, the set of mirrors from ‘Echo Activity’ (2017) by Olafur Eliasson or ‘Faux Rocks’ (2006) by Katharina Grosse. But this inaugural exhibition of the Helga de Alvear Collection is not permanent, but rather will vary over time, and proof of this was the arrival of outstanding additions, such as the work by Richard Serra on the second floor or, outside , the incorporation of the work created from the remains of the Azor, ‘Guernica Syndrome’, by Fernando Sánchez-Castillo, ‘People Walking’ by Julian Opie or the sculptures by John Chamberlain and Anthony Gromley.

During this opening year, two temporary exhibitions have been held: “More than space”, curated by María Jesús Ávila, and inaugurated on March 25, and “Joseph Beuys: Background, coincidences in influences”, the exhibition curated by José María Viñuela with which the Museum is paying homage to the centenary of the influential artist and which can be visited until May 12.

Within a diverse program that takes into account different types of public, since last February, the Museum has hosted different activities: a university course in which renowned representatives of museum institutions participated, conferences, events and awards such as Film Festival Awards de Cáceres or Cáceres Abierto, contemporary dance shows such as the one performed by the artist Poliana Lima on the occasion of the Heritage Night or the choreography performed by the dancer Cristina Hoyos and other performers from Extremadura on the occasion of Museum Day. In addition, the Museum Library, which was inaugurated in April, has offered children’s activities, presentations, a reading club and computer learning courses for the elderly.