Jaen – museums and galleries

These are my experiences of a couple of museums in Jaen. I would also have liked to have seen the Museo Internacional de Art Íbero www.museosdeandalucia.es but it was closed for renovations when I was last in town.

This first museum was my favourite…

Centro Cultural Palacio de Villadompardo, Plaza Santa Luisa de Marillac, www.xn--baosarabesjaen-rnb.es

This is by far the most interesting museum in Jaen because you get to see the eleventh century Arabic baths, the Baños Árabes, in the cellar which are apparently the biggest and best preserved in Europe.

Entrance to the museum is free but you’re not allowed to take pictures, except of the baths.

The museum is located in a lovely old fifteenth century palace. It was built over the Banos Arabes which were only rediscovered in 1913.

The other museum displays aren’t that exciting, unless you like looking at old workman’s tools, ceramics and children’s toys.

There was also a temporary photography exhibition when I was there. This picture showing the realities of the Almadraba, the ancient but modernised method for catching blue-fin tuna, caught my eye.

I also liked this picture showing the traditional process of making pork products.

The palace also houses the International Museum of Naïve Art. The museum (three rooms) is also named after Manuel Moral, a local artist famous for his depictions of the countryside in Jaen province.

On Wikipedia, naïve art is defined as “visual art that is created by a person who lacks the formal education and training that a professional artist undergoes (in anatomy, art history, technique, perspective, ways of seeing)”. The Wikipedia post also adds that “When this aesthetic is emulated by a trained artist, the result is sometimes called primitivism, pseudo-naïve artor faux naïve art”.

Much of what was on display was a bit too childlike for my taste but there are some really beautiful pieces, particularly those by Moral.

I was told sternly to stop taking photos after this (it was okay at the other place below) but there were many more nice paintings.

I can also recommend the view of the town and the castle from the terrace outside the museum café on the top floor of the building. Video here.

Museo de Jaen, 29 Paseo de la Estacion, www.museosdeandalucia.com

Entry is free to this combined museum and art gallery and you are allowed to take pictures without a flash.

It’s housed in another old palace towards the bottom of the hill, so quite easy to get to from the Hotel Cristina Infanta.

Here are a few quirky pieces in the archaeological sections that took my fancy.

My favourite piece was this Iron Age fibula (brooch) depicting a man on horseback hunting wild animals.

Upstairs there is an art gallery.

A line drawing by Picasso was the highlight for me.

There were a few other paintings and sculptures that caught my eye. Click to enlarge.

So not the most exciting choice of museums but okay for killing time if you need something to do. There are some interesting developments happening though. Just two blocks away from the Hotel Infanta Cristina, between the ends of Calle Miguel Castillejo and Avenida de Madrid, is an overgrown plot of land that is boarded off from the new builds around it. Archaeologists have found the remains of a settlement with some unusual circular buildings dating back to 3000BC but excavations haven’t started yet.

If I had a car I’d really like to go to the olive oil museum, Museo Terra Oleum www.terraoleum.es, which gets great reviews from people who have been. Not sure how much it would be in a taxi or if there is a bus going there.

Time for a spot of shopping now…

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