Oct 27, 2016

An Archaeological Museum for the XXI Century

Museo de Almería

“...what the province of Almería and the rest of the Southeast of Spain, are missing is a roof in order to be an immense and unsurpassable museum of Prehistory and Protohistory”. Louis Siret.

The museum

More than 7000 years is nothing, everything goes very fast ... Here in our entrance hall, we invite you to stop, to look up. The light of Almeria may dazzle you, but if you look carefully, you will see how our Siret Cloud welcomes you.

The Siret Cloud is a series of prints which are suspended from the ceiling in the shape of a cloud. The prints are taken from “The First Metal Ages in the South-East of the Iberian Peninsula”, the Siret brothers' main work, paying tribute to the precursor of scientific archaeology of Andalucía.

The history of the Museum of Almeria begins at the end of the 19th century when two Belgian engineers, Enrique and Luis Siret (or Henri and Louis Siret to use the French version of their names) settled in Almeria and embarked on a period of intensive archaeological investigations, uncovering what even today are still the main prehistoric sites in the region.

Luis Siret’s systematic nature, his knowledge of geology, his engineering background, his meticulous fieldwork, and the accuracy in his interpretations of the stratigraphy, make him in one of the most relevant archaeological researchers in Europe from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Today, the sites excavated by Luis Siret more than one century ago, are still important subject of study, and his work is a main point of reference for any of current archaeologists.

The outstanding work produced after their initial excavations, “The First Metal Ages in the South-East of the Iberian Peninsula” (Antwerp, 1867), was presented to the public. It is exceptional not only because of the content but also because of the magnificent drawings produced by Luis Siret to illustrate the book.

Shortly before his death, Siret donated most of his collection to the National Archaeological Museum in Madrid but expressed his desire that another part should remain in Almeria. The conditions for this to happen came about in the 2nd Republic with the creation of the Museum of Almeria.

The decree constituting the museum contemplated that it would house copies from the Siret Collection. However, this was not to be as the pieces hoped for were never sent to Almeria and the museum was therefore created through private collections.

Created as the Provincial Archaeological Museum of Almeria in 1933, the new museum you walk through now opened in 2006 in a new building which was designed by the architects, Ignacio García Pedrosa and Ángela García de Paredes.

Both the building as well as the museography have received national and international awards. The building won two awards in 2004: PAD and ARCO and was also finalist in 2005 in the Fostering Arts and Design Awards (FAD) and in 2008 received an honourable mention by the European Museum of the Year Award, given by the European Museum Forum.

The museum has therefore had a short, yet eventful, history of just over 80 years, but in which we look at prehistory from the perspective of the XXI century.

The archaeological research

In fact, since the inception of scientific archaeology, the province of Almería has been a veritable testing ground for prehistoric research where nearly all the great researchers of Spanish prehistory have pitted their energy and ideas against each other.

Most of the exhibition space is therefore dedicated to these periods of history in the south-east of mainland Spain. The first and second floors of the museum are consequently permanently dedicated to recent prehistory, namely, the Neolithic, Copper and Bronze Ages. And on the third floor, the exhibition is dedicated to the Roman world and the Andalusí period (we'll leave for another time).

Once, inviting us to enter, the Siret´s prints show us the way, we find with a giant stratigraphic column, the hub around which the whole museum is articulated and one of the Museum's most interesting museographical resources due to its enormous educational value.

Tempus fugit

It is an idealised, life-size reproduction of a stratigraphic cross section, inspired by a real stratigraphy obtained at the archaelogical site of Ciavieja (El Ejido).

Some thirteen mettres high, it contains sixteen strata, from the mother rock to the present day.

One of the peculiarities of the Museum of Almeria is that, unlike other archaeological museums, the exhibition discourse was born out of the research of the collection and its archaeological context (the museum has been enriched by the finds made in the various excavations carried out in the city and the rest of the province), transferring the results of recent archaeological research to the permanent exhibition.

In this sense we find an exhibition area dedicated to Archaeological Research, this area illustrates different methods and branches of science that support a historian's work.

On the ground floor, the model of Archaeology 1 “The first investigations” present the reconstruction of an archaeological section during the excavation process of soil under a rock shelter occupied by hunter-gatherers and a silo, or ditch, dug into the earth for storing cereal in a farming settlement.

The model on the first floor Archaeology 2 “Investigation of the Millares Society” shows soil from the Millares society, and the one on the second floor Archaeology 3 “Investigation of the Argaric society”, shows soil from the Argar society.

These surface excavations reveal a variety of elements, such as the remains of bones, dwellings, graves, tombs, and the remains of walls and so on. Many of these can be viewed at the same time on the stratigraphic column and provide us details of archaeological research techniques and associated disciplines: the study of pollen, carbon, seeds, human and animal bone remains, etc.

This organisation enables visitors to either make a comprehensive tour of both the rooms dedicated to Archaeology and those focusing on the different societies chosen, or if time is at a premium, to concentrate on just one of these aspects.

We recommend that you come back to the museum (virtually or physically) as often as you’d like or are able to in order to take full advantage of the wide range of information offered in the permanent exhibition of the Museum of Almeria, your museum.

Museo de Almería
Credits: Story

An archaeological museum for the XXI century

Organised by:
Museo de Almería.
Consejería de Cultura de la Junta de Andalucía.

Texts: Encarna Maldonado Maldonado, Beba Pérez Bernárdez, Manuel Ramos Lizana, Guía breve del Museo de Almería y Proyecto museográfico Museo de Almería.

Photography:
 Miguel Ángel Marín Francisco y Fernando Alda.

Digital layout: Beba Pérez Bernárdez.

Museo de Almería.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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