Spanish Museums To Distance Themselves From Colonial Framing

Spanish Museums, Run by State, Are Facing Reviews in an Attempt to Advance Them "Beyond a Colonial Framing" of History.

Jan 24, 2024By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
Spanish Museums
National Archaeological Museum. Via Wikipedia


Spanish museums, run by the state, are facing reviews, in an attempt to advance them “beyond the colonial framing” of history. Spokesperson for the socialist-led government of Spain declared this information on Monday. Ernest Urtasun, appointed culture minister last November, declared his commitment to ensuring the efficient use of cultural rights across Spain” to the congressional culture committee.


Spanish Museums Started Modifying Their Programmes

The museum. Via Gloria Beruetta


The culture minister also spoke about strengthening the ties between international organisations and Spain’s cultural institutions. With that in mind, one of the challenges we’re proposing…is the establishment of spaces for dialogue and exchange. They will allow us to move past a colonial framing or one rooted in old gender or ethnocentric habits that have so often damaged how we see heritage, history and artistic legacies”, the minister said.


He also added: “As you know, museums are living organisms that respond to the issues and debates of the times”. Stating that the nation’s culture sector’s primary objective is is creating forums for discussion and interaction that will enable them to go over colonial framing. This also includes ethnocentric behaviours that frequently harmed their perceptions of history, legacy, and artistic legacies.


Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum- Via Wikipedia


The Museum of America and the National Anthropological Museum, according to Urtasun, already started with modifying their programmes. They wanted to represent the welcoming objectives of the culture ministry. “We’re working to recognize and draw attention to the perspectives of the communities and the memory of the peoples from whom these works on display came”.

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Growing Number of Art Censorship Cases

Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid, via The European Museums Forum


Urtasun also called attention to the growing number of art censorship cases in Spain. He said  his department supported any individual or group whose work was taken down or prohibited from being shown in public. Over the summer, plays, films, and other artworks that supported LGBTQ+ and feminist perspectives became suppressed. In response, protests erupted across Spain, spearheaded by the activist group Organización para la Libertad Artística (OLA).


The demonstrations took place in opposition to a contentious national, regional, and local election season in Spain. Also, many expressed concern the nation was reverting to conservatism or perhaps the fascism of Francoism, which the republic had overthrown in 1975. “Protecting culture and understanding its relevance in building an equal society means protecting democracy, fundamental rights and freedoms and the welfare state”, said Urtasun in his address to the congressional culture committee.


The Washing of Feet by Jacopo Robusti Tintoretto, 1548-1549, via Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid


In December 2023, Vox (conservative party) successfully scrapped a 23-year-old cultural festival in the northeastern city of Huesca. The party threated to torpedo the upcoming budget offered by Huesca’s PP-controled council. Vox’s culture spokesperson, Joaquín Robles, however, denied all accusations that his party was censoring cultural expression in a public rebuttal to Urtasun.













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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.