On Saturday March 9th the Museu Picasso celebrated the 50th anniversary of its inauguration. Quite a milestone, particularly if we take into account the Barcelona of 1963 and the political environment of the time.
Placement of the plaque of the Museu Picasso. c. 1966. Photo: Hernández
The museum staff were really looking forward to celebrating it in a very special way, and in a way that was close to the citizens of Barcelona (to whom Picasso gave so many of his works) and that it would also allow the whole team to participate and make a contribution.
For this reason we proposed holding an open doors day in which the staff of the museum would share with the public their knowledge and also their passion for the works which are the reason that the museum exists. A knowledge that comes from the many different activity fields of the museum, not only from the curators, but also from restoration, education, communication, and also publications, registry, security, press, etc.
Presentation of the work Gored Horse by the museum director
So, those of us who were willing to do it chose our favourite works and prepared our brief presentations. The preparation process caused many internal comings and goings, chats with curators and consultations in the library to confirm and broaden information, and even rehearsals and exchanging of facts and figures or materials obtained during the research. We all got highly involved and awaited the day with a mix of excitement and nervousness, given the fact that for many of us, live presentations are not part of our day-to-day work.
The day arrived and the museum opened with people already queuing outside, and quickly the presentations filled up. It was very exciting to see how the public shared the proposal, looking at the handout to decide which presentation they wanted to listen to straight away, how attentive they were in front of the paintings and how they took part and participated in the talks.
Internally, it was also very moving to see how almost all the staff came throughout the day, regardless of their giving presentations or not, to follow their colleagues and encourage them, giving them support, etc. And it was also magnificent the involvement and total complicity of the staff that works in public attention, who backed us up at all times, and shared the celebration with us.
Presentations of works by the museum staff
We have asked for feedback, anecdotes and experiences of our improvised guides, and here are some of their reflections of how they lived the day:
Sílvia Domènech – Head of the Knowledge and Research Centre
“The second time I explained the Blue portrait of Jaume Sabartés, I had a little girl of about six years old who was totally enthused by my explanation. When I finished she applauded and came up to me and said ‘I liked it a lot…when are you going to tell anotherfairytale?’ For me that was the best of the day!”
Marta Jové – Publications
“The day allowed us to be in contact with the public that was very direct and very gratifying (especially for those of us who can rarely have this contact, due to the kind of functions we do in the museum). The expressions of the people who listened to us were priceless. For me personally it reinforced my deep love for the museum, and for my work. It was also very positive to strengthen the ties between the people who work in the museum, because it was a common project, beyond the departmental projects that we are used to doing. Working with the staff who managed the public or with colleagues of activities was very gratifying indeed.
Presentations of works by the museum staff. Photos: Josep María Llobet
The best anecdote was this one: I was in gallery 8 listening to a colleague. A lady with her daughter came up to me and said that the girl (totally embarrassed by her mother’s initiative) had some doubts about one of the paintings and wondered if I could help. So as not to be rude I said I would, but I broke out into a cold sweat thinking that I, deep down, knew little about the collection and depending what work they were talking about I didn’t know how I would get by. Furthermore, we were going towards galleries 10 and 11…Luckily they took me to look at the painting called
The Passeig de Colom. The young girl’s problem was how to understand the perspective shown in the painting. I improvised an explanation about cubism that I will never forget in my life. Anyway, it seemed that the mother and daughter were very grateful…and also the small group that formed around me while I tried to explain what occurred to me.”
Mercè García – Activities Service (Department of Public Programmes)
“Well, for me it was a very moving day, exhausting but fun, a day in which there was a lot of complicity between the staff of the museum and the different departments, given that we don’t always have the opportunity to do so, and it worked out perfectly. Both the public who attended and we ourselves had a very good time, which was what it was all about.”
Xavier Vilaró – Coordinator of Security
“For me it was very nice to see the happiness of the people and how they followed the explanations, with a positive feedback, sharing experiences. And how the public loyally went from one presentation session to the next, they were a very interested and informed public, and very participative. And how all the colleagues worked together as a close-knit team, sharing the same moment. I had a really good time, and it was very enriching.”
To all the staff who managed the public from the company Magma, to all of those from the museum who were bold enough to participate – and to all those from the museum who didn’t but actively participated in making the 50th anniversary possible, to past workers of the house, to Press and Communication Department, Manel and Anna, to Milena, Mercè, Vanesa and Cristina who were involved throughout the day without stopping, and above all to the magnificent public who attended, a huge THANK YOU! for your complicity warmth and for making this celebration possible.