MUSEUMS are a great way to spend a rainy day in winter, but there is no reason the cultural immersion and chance to learn something new they provide cannot be enjoyed in summer.
To get the best of both worlds – the summer weather and the museum experience – here is a list of 10 of Spain’s top outdoor museums for days out during this year’s summer holidays.
Fundacion Montemedio – Vejer de la Frontera, Cadiz
Fundacion Montemedio is a haven for lovers of both art and nature located in Vejer de la Frontera, a stunning white moorish town slightly off the traditional tourist trail, and well worth paying a visit along with this museum. The outdoor museum combines contemporary art with nature in perfect harmony, and is also dog friendly. The most popular attraction is the Impression of the Sky, a striking white ellipse structure inspired by the contrast between the rainy and dry months of the Andalucian town.
Museo Vostell Malpartida – Caceres, Extremadura
This museum’s car sculptures will make you feel like you are flying along famed US road Route 66 with the windows rolled down, rather than an open air museum in Extremadura. The collection also encompasses a section inspired by trendy retro Berlin. Founded in 1976 by Hispano-German Wolf Vostell, the towering sculptures of modern art can be admired walking around the open air of the museum’s park.
Dali Sculptures – Marbella, Malaga
Though Salvador Dali had no obvious connection to Marbella other than trips on holiday, five of his sculptures depicting Roman figures along with Dali’s wife, can be seen while walking along the marble pavement of Avenida del Mar in Marbella. In addition, Dali has another work that can be seen on the Christomar roundabout at the entrance to Puerto Banus called Rhinoceros Dressed in Lace.
Museo Atlantico – Playa Blanca, Lanzarote
As the only underwater museum in Europe, this is sure to be a unique experience. Getting a look at the underwater sculptures requires a journey 15 metres underwater. British sculptor James deCaires Taylor opened the first museum of its kind in 2006 on the Caribbean island of Grenada, before opening the Lanzarote site ten years later. Sculptures based on residents of Lanzarote, as well as the refugee crisis in Europe and others experimenting with the entwining of man and nature are all housed in the museum designed as an artificial reef under the sea.
Fundacion Cerezales Antonino y Cinia – Cerezales del Condado, León
An exhibition focused on nature, this large open air museum in Leon brings a vast range of flower types and nature all together in one place. The museum also offers visitors their own chance to get into the wild with paths leading to the countryside where they can pick their own flowers after being inspired by the displays produced by the professionals.
Valley of the Fallen – Sierra de Guadarrama, Madrid
Located in the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range north of Madrid, the Valley of the Fallen is a striking monument that dominates the landscape, commemorating all the Spaniards who died in the bloody civil war. Approximately 40,000 soldiers, interestingly both Republican and Nationalist, are buried at the site. The site also has a basilica to visit, and being wrapped in the beautiful surroundings of the Sierra makes a wonderful trip from Madrid.
Museum of Erotic Sculpture – Can Girona Forest, Girona
A visit to the Musuem of Erotic Sculpture is an unusual strool through the Can Girona Forest with erotic scultpures rather than the usual hills or trees to admire. The sculptures themselves are moulded from a range of materials from concrete to recycled objects and scrap metal. The pieces are more than the comical element they seem on the surface though, with the intention of connecting nature and intimacy and invoking religious symbolism.
Poble Espanyol – Montjuic, Barcelona
The Spanish Village museum at Montjuic in Barcelona is unique in that it combines architectural styles from all over Spain. The exhibition feels like a pleasant stroll through a quintessential Spanish town, but being a museum, offers the opportunity to learn about Spanish architecture at the same time. The Spanish Village was built in 1929 for the World Fair being held in Barcelona, but has been kept to this day thanks to its popularity with tourists and locals alike. Montjuic Hill, where the museum is located, can be reached by cable car, allowing gorgeous views of the Catalan capital to be enjoyed.
Art Encounters Genal Valley – Genalguacil, Malaga
Over 100 artists from painters to sculptors have offered their work to the pueblo of Genalguacil, turning its streets into a real open air museum. The work also reflects the nature of the surrounding area, created using its natural resources. The exhibition is special in that it combines modern art with the setting of a traditional andalucian white village, attracting a report in the New York Times in 2014. It is an easy day trip from the Costa del Sol, being just over 30km from the town of Estepona, as well as 40km from Ronda.
Titanes Project Don Quixote Murals – La Mancha, Castile-La Mancha
To save yourself reading the roughly 800 page long beacon of Spanish culture and best selling book of all time, visit the Don Quixote mural project in the novel’s setting town of rural La Mancha. The project involved 12 international street artists and was also a major social inclusion project, with 450 people with disabilities involved. The colourful murals depict scenes from Don Quixote making for a cultural stroll round the town.