Many people having access to information on our Island only through travel brochures could have the impression that the Island is constituted exclusively by the all-inclusive hotels and complexes of the south – thus, no “high” culture. The truth is, we are really a remote and basically colonial settlement, and historically not an economic and administrative centre like Madrid, Vienna or London: the high prestige art collections are not assembled here. Also, as being part of the Spanish Crown, the idea of a local “national” Canarian type of art has not been invented until the twentieth century. But being an important port connecting the three continents, a long tradition of multicultural society evolved.
Among historical museums, the archaeological one, the “Museo Canario” is of the highest interest, being founded by the local elite in the 19. century, housed in a beautiful palace in Las Palmas’ old town. Here you can learn about the pre-conquist, aboriginal culture, which, in the absence of any metals on the islands, and hardly any commerce with the continents, is labelled as a “forced stone age” culture with richly elaborated pottery, wood and stone works. The collection has an abundant anthropological material.
Besides the smaller historical and art collections of the Archbishop in Las Palmas and many in other towns (Gáldar, Telde, Agaete) there are a number of monographic ones, mainly for artists (Moya, Gáldar, Las Palmas). The “Casa de Colón” equals the historic museum continuing the Museo Canario from the time of the conquest of the Island, and with main focus on Christopher Colombus’ routes – here both local and art from the New World is also exhibited. The building in which the museum is housed is a fascinating agglomerate of neighbouring palaces, dating from the late gothic period.
Permanent exhibition of Martin Chirino in the medieval Castillo de la Luz
Latin American Betlehem figures, Archbishop collection
Solo show of Jack Beng-Thi at CAAM
Opening at Espacio Digital
Contemporary art has several venues in the capital city, of which the most important is the CAAM (Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderna), founded by the Canary-born avant-garde artists, located also in Vegueta, Las Palmas old town. Their mission is being a connecting hub between the three continents Africa, (Southern and Central) America and Europe. Their collection is to be exhibited on a permanent show in an other emblematic building, a 19th century hospital, but works on it are still carried out now. The cultural centre “La Regenta” offers a large exhibition space for temporary shows, the “Espacio Digital” mainly focuses on filmmaking and new media, “San Antonio Abad” is the satellite gallery of CAAM (solo shows), MAPFRE Foundation has solo and group exhibitions on their two venues, “Casa Africa” has programmes and exhibitions on African art. The smaller venues, like the University headquarters’ Gallery or the “Gabinete Literario” are the proper places for the emerging artists, besides the numerous other independent or not exclusively visual art centred institutions. Generally, do not expect the Berlin buzz.