Museo de Jaén. printer version


Exterior view of the Museum. The picture illistrates the History's Section
Exterior view of the Museum.

The history of the Provincial Museum of Jaén begins in 1846, when a museum to display paintings was opened to the public using the objects belonging to the Church which had been confiscated. This first museum was located in the former convento Compañía de Jesús in Jaén and from this place, only some of the religious paintings were preserved.

In 1914, the Provincial Museum of Fine Arts in Jaén was set up; Alfredo Cazabán Laguna was appointed Director, a key figure within Jaén culture in the first third of the 20th century. The museum was located in the palacio de la Diputación, a building which was designed at the end of the 19th century by the architect Jorge Porrúa. Nonetheless, as it was a shared, limited space, and therefore the  influential politician José del Prado y Palacio, from Jaén, promoted the purchase of a 4,200m2 plot in Paseo de la Estación as its new site.

In 1920, the construction project for the new museum headquarters was approved on the site of the recently purchased land. The main building, planned by the architect, Antonio Flórez Urdapillata, is a palace of classical taste, with a quadrangular floor and towers at the corners. In this palace, two emblematic facades of Renaissance Jaén were erected: that of the Pósito building, a work by Francisco del Castillo in the 16th century; and that of the San Miguel Church, also from the 16th century and attributed to Andrés de Vandelvira.

In spite of this palace being the actual headquarters of the museum, the building and museum itself suffered many ups and downs for several decades. At the end of the 1920s, construction work was stopped and   during the Second Republic, it was believed that the building should house the Escuela Normal de Magisterio. After the Spanish War, the Army needed a spacious building and ordered the Museum Director to free up the space occupied, and took over the building. Thus, a period we call El Museo Disperso (Dispersed Museum) began, spanning from 1938 until 1969. During this time, the  collections were distributed between the Institución de la Santa Capilla, located in San Andrés Church, and several offices and staircases of the Provincial Council and the Town Hall in the capital.

In the middle of the 1960s, after some complex, subtle negotiations, the Army returned the building to the Ministry of Education and Science, given that in the ownership deeds, the building appeared as the headquarters of the Museum of Jaén and the General Directorate of Fine Arts as rightful owner. At the time, Inocente Fe Jiménez was Chairman of the Trust Board of the Museum and he headed these delicate negotiations.

The Archaeological Section  was set up in 1963 under the initiative of the Provincial Council?s Instituto de Estudios Giennenses, which later set up the Provincial Archaeological Museum. The new museum was also located in the provincial palace, around its interior cloister. Ultimately, the Provincial Museum of Fine Arts and the Provincial Archaeological Museum joined together in 1969, when, by Decree on 16 October, the current Provincial Museum of Jaén was set up.

Once the building had been returned by the Army, the architect, Luis Berges Roldán, was given the task of creating a project and carrying out specific permanent works to appropriately adapt the building to a museum space. On the ground floor, where the Archaeology section was located, mezzanines were built on iron supports in order to increase the exhibition space. The museum at this site was not open to the public until 1971.

The Museum has two other functional buildings. also planned by Mr. Berges in the 1970s. One is dedicated to the Temporary Exhibition Hall and monographic exhibition of the Iberian sculptures from Cerrillo Blanco, Porcuna, and the other is dedicated to offices, a library, restoration workshops and storerooms.