The Museu de Mataró shows the collections seized during the Civil War | Entertainment | The USA Print

goya mataro

The history of most Catalan museums would not be understood without the upheaval that the Civil War caused to the country’s heritage as a whole. There was a before and after in Catalan museography, and Mataró (Maresme) was no exception. Almost ninety years after that sad episode, the aim has been to shed light on this chapter in the history of the museum’s collections and show, to what extent the research work has allowed, the nature, origins and consequences of the museum project of Can Serra, the seat of the municipal museum, which began to take shape in the early years of the Franco dictatorship.

That new Museum of Mataró was made up of donations from individuals, with funds collected before the war at the School of Arts and Crafts –some 800 objects–, with works from the Republican safeguard and with objects from the two deposits made in 1944 by the Service for the Defense of National Artistic Heritage (SDPAN), the Francoist service created in April 1938 to manage the return of historical-artistic assets collected by the Central Board of the Artistic Treasury of the Republic and, in the Catalan case, by the Servei del Historical, Artistic and Scientific Heritage of the Generalitat (SPHAC). It was a museum conceived as a large alluvial container of artistic, ethnographic and archaeological objects, in the manner of nineteenth-century museums.

returned lots

For very diverse reasons, the assets requisitioned during the war that were not returned to their owners became the property of the new National State, which ceded them as a deposit to museums, institutions and individuals. The Museu de Mataró was not the only Catalan museum to receive objects from this source, but it was one of the most benefited from the distribution. File 2619 identifies the two lots ceded to Mataró on May 11 and August 2, 1944. The first contained 57 inventoried items of all kinds, with works by Masriera, Rusiñol or Galwey. The second batch consisted of 880 pieces, which included 300 coins, 326 medals and 254 other objects, with jewelry, decorative elements and a good number of works of art (a series of engravings by Goya, two drawings by Salvador Dalí, paintings by Nonell, Brull , Nogués, Armet, Vayreda, high period paintings, etc.).

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Today, the study of all that documentation generated, dispersed in different archives and for a few years progressively made available to researchers, allows data to be crossed and contrasted with the information contained in the works themselves.

Goya engravings in Mataró


File 2619. Art in deposit (Mataró 1936-2023) brings together close to a hundred pieces and has had the collaboration, among others, of the Municipal Archive of Mataró, the Regional Archive of Maresme, the Arxiu Museum of Santa Maria, the Archive of the Crown of Aragon, the Muse d’Història de Catalunya, CRAI Pavelló Library of the Republic. University of Barcelona, ​​the National Archive of Catalonia, the Photographic Archive of Barcelona, ​​the Amatller Institute of Hispanic Art, the Museu d’Arqueologia de Catalunya, the Local Architectural Heritage Service of the Diputació de Barcelona, ​​the National Library of Spain and the Regional Archive of Madrid.

The exhibition “File 2619. Art in deposit (Mataró 1936-2023)”, which can be visited until October 22, 2023, is a project conceived as a necessary act of transparency, in line with the path undertaken by some great museums and European institutions when reviewing the nature of their funds. And it is also an invitation to the public to reflect on a time and events that are still very little known.

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Josep Playa Maset


The study of the collections of the Mataró Museum is part of the IGUEMUS R&D project “The impact of the Civil War on the configuration of the museums of Catalonia. Traceability, location and destination of the saved cultural assets” carried out by the Institute Catalan Institute for Research in Cultural Heritage (ICRPC), during the period 2022-2026.

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To complete the display of the objects that were part of the two deposits, the exhibition will have a museographic complement, in the temporary exhibition halls of Can Serra from mid-July to the end of September.

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