Are you busy planning a trip to sunny Malaga? Well, the good news is that there are many great options for visitors to enjoy. One of the true highlights of the Spanish city has to be its rich cultural scene; Malaga is packed full of magnificent museums and must-see galleries. No matter if you want to see art from legendary painters or gain a real sense of the region’s culture during your stay, Malaga has you covered. To help you decide just what to visit, however, we have assembled a handy guide to museums and culture in Malaga.
Image credit: Museo Picasso Málaga
Opened back in 2003, Picasso Museum Malaga is dedicated to perhaps the most famous artist in history, Pablo Picasso. Showcasing the legendary artist’s work over a period of time, the exhibition highlights the great versatility that Picasso possessed in the very city where he was born.
The Picasso Museum told us what makes them such a must visit attraction in Malaga: “Picasso Museum Málaga (MPM) is the only Museum devoted to the artist in his birthplace, and it is also the most visited Museum in Andalusia. In 2016 we received 558,033 visitors, and this year we have increased this number further still.”
They also spoke to us about what people can expect to see upon visiting the museum: “At Picasso Museum, people can see the MPM Collection, with works by Picasso, and also interesting temporary exhibitions about Picasso and his time or about other contemporary artists.”
Suggestions from Absolute Axarquia
Absolute Axarquia is a thorough and incredibly useful online guide to Axarquia – an ancient and beautiful area of Malaga city, as well as a top resource for exploring culture in Malaga. Their website is the go-to place for helpful information on enjoying a Malaga holiday, and they spoke to us about their suggestions for the best of the city’s museums and galleries:
“There are about 40 official museums in Malaga city and most are worthy of a visit, however, a few of them consistently receive the best reports.
“The city’s historic and fine art collections have been brought together and housed in the lovely Palacio de la Aduana which is right in the centre of the city. The collections are varied and will give you a good grounding in the region’s history and cultural highlights, and it’s free for EU citizens so there’s no excuse not to pop in.” You can read more about the museum in our blog piece.
“Malaga Glass Museum is also excellent. A Museum of glass – what can be good about that? Well, the collection is housed in a stunning house full of interesting furniture and the eccentric owners add a dollop of personality and entertainment to the guided tours.
“A short ride out of the town centre is the Automobile and Fashion Museum. The cars are stunning and there is plenty to look at, the addition of hats and clothes have only added to the visit and really help transport you back to the periods when the cars were on the roads.
“Art lover or not, a visit to the CAC (contemporary art museum) is great for all the family. The galleries are relaxed and not at all stuffy and there are plenty of sculptures which the kids seem to love.
“Lastly, the Interactive Museum of Music is great for the kids for obvious reasons.”
Malaga Wine museum
For lovers of both history and Spanish wine, a visit to the Malaga Wine Museum is a thoroughly enjoyable opportunity to explore the history and culture of wine in the Spanish city of Malaga. We spoke to Malaga Wine Museum about why they believe all visitors to Malaga should be sure to pay them a visit:
“Málaga wines have been one of the most, if not the most, picturesque goods our city has counted with since the beginnings of our history. Therefore, our Museum is a space where history, culture, art and wine training cohabit in order to let our visitors know a bit more about our wine culture and how essential it has been during our recent history. Málaga wines reflect very well the character and personality of its population so if you want to get to know a bit more about Malaga locals’ habits, visiting this Museum is in fact a must.”
Explaining a little further about what visitors can expect to see and enjoy, Malaga Wine Museum told us:
“Located in a restored 18th century building, formerly known as Biedmas Palace, Málaga Wine Museum offers a wide range of information that goes from a collection of stunning lithographical labels from the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, to a tasting room and shop where visitors can enjoy themselves tasting the best Málaga wines and buying all sorts of wine related articles, of course wine bottles included. On the first floor, visitors will be able to get to know better the culture of wine itself by reading some panels which talk about Malaga wine history from the Phoenician ages to nowadays as well as other facts more related to the local wine production such as the varieties of grapes and processes. They will also enjoy some informing audio-visual elements that will complete your knowledge of Málaga Wines.”
Automobile and Fashion Museum
Previously highlighted by Absolute Axarquia, the Automobile and Fashion Museum is certainly deserving of its own section in this guide to museums, art and culture in Malaga. Located in the La Tabacalera building, the Automobile and Fashion Museum is exactly what it says on the tin, and is a guide through the vibrant and eclectic world of fashion and cars in Malaga. The museum offered us a little further insight into what they bring to Malaga’s museum scene:
“In the Automobile and Fashion Museum, a journey through artistic evolution since the nineteenth century is made through a collection of exclusive and unprecedented vehicles, installations of Contemporary Art and an extraordinary series of fashion exhibitions of Haute Couture. The articulation of the museographic discourse, enriched with thematic rooms such as the history of the museum’s collections, as well as a new concept where the automobile is taken as a work of art, provides great added value.
“Since its opening in September 2010, the Automobile and Fashion Museum of Malaga has been forged in the province and has become a benchmark to be one of the most important collections of cars and private fashion in the world.”
For some specifics of what can be seen at the Automobile and Fashion Museum, they told us: “In the Museum you can see almost a hundred exclusive vehicles restored to the highest level, more than 200 pieces of Haute Couture and contemporary art installations, where you can find a variety of emblematic firms such as Mercedes, Hispano Suiza, Bugatti, Bentley, Rolls-Royce or Ferrari. Upholstered in ostrich and mink leather, precious woods, Lalique mascot, mother-of-pearl dashboard, ivory and silver handles, and new customized engines.”
The Automobile and Fashion Museum is a prime example of Malaga’s thriving museum scene, and as the museum say themselves, “With a total of 36, the province is positioned as a city of Museums and not only of Sun and Beach.”
Opening its doors in 2015, the Pompidou Centre has quickly become a must-visit Malaga attraction. Located in the El Cubo – a cuboid glass structure in Malaga port – the Pompidou Centre is home to 80 different works and presents to an excited audience two to three annual exhibitions, each lasting three to six months.
The Pompidou Centre told us more about what’s on offer: “The Centre Pompidou Málaga invites you to experience the Centre Pompidou through the richness of its collection ‘Utopías Modernas’, which shows works of artists like Chagall, Miró, Picasso or Malevich; the excellence of its activities, the interlinking of artistic disciplines, and its innovative mediation programmes designed for the whole family.
“It takes you on a journey through art of the 20th and the 21st centuries from the Centre Pompidou collection, one of the most important in the world of modern and contemporary art.”
As mentioned, the Pompidou Centre’s collection includes masterful works from throughout the 20th century, with particular highlights being The Frame by Frida Kahlo, The Flowered Hat by Picasso, and a self-portrait by Francis Bacon. There is more available at the Pompidou Centre than just great exhibitions, however, as a great many events are also at hand. Visitors to Malaga will be able to enjoy workshops for children, as well as dance, film, and spoken word events, all combining to help travellers explore the very best of culture in Malaga.
Russian Art Museum
Situated in an old tobacco factory that dates back to the 1920s, the Russian Art Museum houses 100 fascinating pieces from the 15th to 20th centuries that have been specifically selected for Malaga. The art here originates from the Russian State Museum’s collection in St Petersburg and covers all periods of Russian art.
The Russian Art Museum described to us what visitors can expect to see: “Spread over more than two thousand square metres, this space contains a series of long-term exhibitions, renewed every year, looking at the complex and fascinating history of Russian art and its changing relationship with European culture, as well as outstanding temporary exhibitions that complete its exhibition discourse.”
Not something that you might expect to find in sunny Malaga, the Russian Art Museum proves to be a true highlight of any Malaga holiday and a different cultural experience from the city’s other great museums and galleries. Guided tours are available, as well as film screenings and concerts tailored to the wonderful Russian art on display.
Malaga Glass Museum
Malaga Glass Museum is yet another fantastic museum to visit in the city (and recommended by Absolute Axarquia) and provides visitors the opportunity to explore human history via a private collection of beautiful decorative glass. To provide a deep dive into all that is on offer, Malaga Glass Museum kindly spoke to us about what visitors can look forward to:
“The Málaga Glass Museum is housed in a merchant’s house from 1761, carefully restored between 2002 and 2009. It remains a private home with furnishings, largely inherited, dating from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries, and coming from many European countries. There is also a fine collection of family portraits.
“Most glass museums simply contain glass, whereas ours aims to create a special ambience by showing the portraits of people who used to own such glass, in an environment provided by the pictures, furniture and decorative objects that they owned at different periods. The visitor is immersed in an environment that is similar to the domestic context of the era. We can browse through the history of humanity by means of the glass. We also aim to contribute to the rehabilitation of the traditional craftsman’s neighbourhood of San Felipe Neri.
“Visitors will see core-moulded glass dating from 6-300BC (Egyptian, Phoenician, Greek), and blown glass made in the Roman Empire and in Persia, 17th century items from Spain, Italy, The Netherlands, Bohemia, and 18th century pieces from Spain, Britain and Ireland. From the late 19th century to the present, we have glass, including pressed pieces, from a range of European countries – notably including France and Scandinavia – and finally Studio glass from several countries including the USA, Germany and Britain. We also show a collection of 19th to 20th century stained glass windows and a range of porcelain.
“To achieve the best means of describing what is on display and to allow a maximum of interaction, all visits to the Museum – usually lasting about an hour – are guided by the owners or their knowledgeable staff. We routinely offer tours in Spanish, English, French and Italian. In addition we have occasional dinners and receptions, craft-based sessions, lectures and concerts covering a wide range of tastes.
“The normal price of admission, including the tour, is 6 euros, with reductions to 4 euros for children aged from 7 to 12 years, students (with proof of status), those over 65 years of age, and groups of more than ten people. Groups are advised to book their visits. We are closed on Mondays, during August, and as advertised on our website. The vast proportion of our visitors, even those with a limited knowledge of our languages, find tours informative and entertaining, and leave us having had a valued and memorable experience. Many return for more!”
Carmen Thyssen is an art museum which has a focus on 19th-century Spanish paintings, highlighting the great works from the region and is based on the exquisite collection of one Carmen Cevera, who was the third wife of Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza. The collection is today on display in a 16th-century building that opened to the public in 2011, becoming one of Malaga’s must-visit museums and a truly fantastic avenue for enjoying culture in Malaga.
The collection comprises of 230 pieces of work, highlighting Andalucia and featuring painters such as Zurbaran, Sorolla, Zuloaga, and Romero Torres. The Carmen Thyssen collection is split into four sections, comprising the following themes: Romantic Landscape and Costumbrism, Preciocism and Naturalistic Landscape, End of Century, and Old Masters. For a chance to become ensconced in sublime Malaga artwork, Carmen Thyssen is a must-visit.
Exploring Malaga’s museums, art, and culture
As you can see, there is a great bevy of fascinating attractions to visit in the city and the many fantastic museums and galleries available will provide wonderful days out for those hiring cars from Malaga airport. For travellers looking to discover some culture in Malaga, to go along with the great weather, beaches, and restaurants, stopping by some of the above is certainly advised.