MACBA To Expand


The museum expansion trend continues, this time with Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), which will subsume the neighboring Convent dels Angels compound for the museum’s programming. The additional venue comprises a converted 15th-century chapel and two large halls, a total of about 21,500 square feet, as well as the central Plaça dels Angels square, which sits between the 16th-century cloister and the Richard Meier-designed glass-and-concrete museum. While MACBA has long used the chapel for performances and site-specific installations, this time the city has lent the entire historic cluster to the institution for an unspecified term to “reaffirm its commitment to making Barcelona one of the world capitals of contemporary art and culture,” according to a press release.

The expansion is projected to cost around $2.7 million. Only about $675,000 is to come from MACBA’s coffers, with the majority being donated by the city council.

The first phase of the expansion includes the expansion of the study center and archive, added entry points into the museum and a café and restaurant. With guidance from Meier’s firm, the project will be executed by a team of local architects, including overseeing director Isabel Bachs of MAS Studio, Eskubi Turró Arquitectes (responsible for exteriors), and Llamazares Pomés Arquitectura (which will handle interiors).

Located in Barcelona’s Raval neighborhood, MACBA opened in 1995 as part of the city’s revitalization plan for the downtown neighborhood, which had fallen into disrepair. The city aimed to remake the district into a cultural destination; it now also includes the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB), which opened nearly 20 years ago and hosts exhibitions along with public and educational programs. Ultimately the goal for MACBA’s expansion is to have a seamless flow between its and CCCB’s spaces by interconnecting the six plazas surrounding both institutions.

The first exhibition in the new facilities, “Nonument” (opening Sept. 10) will contain commissioned works reflecting on “symbolic monument and public space.” It is to be curated by MACBA director Bartomeu Marí and Barcelona-based architect Josep Bohigas and will occupy the two halls in the convent. In November, the Cappella will see an installation by Israeli artist Sigalit Landau. The Plaça dels Angels, touted by the museum as an agora, will host outdoor performances, film screenings and “ephemeral exhibitions,” as MACBA puts it in a press release, and special events.