Víctor Balaguer Museum Library, Vilanova i la Geltrú, Spain

The Víctor Balaguer Museum Library, located in the municipality of Vilanova i la Geltrú, was founded in 1884 by Víctor Balaguer. Balaguer wanted to create a universal temple of knowledge open to all to promote education and culture. It is one of the oldest and most pioneering cultural facilities in Catalonia, since it was the first public building in the country to carry out library and museum functions. Since 2000, the museum is a section of the National Art Museum of Catalonia and the library section of the Biblioteca de Catalunya. His current director is Mireia Rosich.

Currently the Víctor Balaguer Museum Library occupies 2 buildings in Vilanova i la Geltrú. The original building of the institution (which in turn includes the Casa de Santa Teresa) and Casa Marqués de Castrofuerte, where the consultation service of the library and the offices of the center are located.

Main building
The main building was built on some lands credited at a symbolic price by the railroad company. The first stone was laid on January 1, 1882 and opened on October 26, 1884. The building is the work of the architect Jeroni Granell i Mundet and is in the center of Vilanova i la Geltrú, surrounded by others for the train station, the Higher Polytechnic School of Engineering of Vilanova i la Geltrú de la UPC, and the library of this university. It was conceived expressly to house a library and a museum, something not usual at the time. The, with neo-Greek and neogregal decorations, typical of the eclectic architecture of the late nineteenth century, just before Modernisme, characterized by the fusion of historicist aesthetics with modern techniques, that is to say, decorative elements recovered from the Past, but the technology in the construction systems was tops.

In the decoration of the exteriors, classic-inspired details (acroteris, fronton, atrium) and Egyptian (stylized leaves in the capitals of the columns, the schematization of the papyrus plant) were used, something quite unusual in the “Granell architecture, but which connects with the general interest that existed in ancient Egypt, especially as a result of the new archeological discoveries, the opening of the Suez canal (1869) or the success of Verdi ‘s opera Aida (1871).

The building has similarities with the Barceloní Palau d’Exposicions de Belles Arts. The windows twins, separated by small columns, the pilasters attached modulate the facades, the symmetrical layout with elongated plants, central access through a portico with pediment supported by two columns and the names of classic artists and contemporaries enrolled in the frieze, are some of the compositional features common to both buildings.

On the facade of the building there is a sculpture by Archbishop of Tarragona, Francesc Armanyà, and another by the poet Manuel de Cabanyes, who were prominent nineteenth – century Vilanova. On the entrance you can read the motto Surge et ambula (Get up and walk, in Latin). The nineteenth-century garden also stands outwhich surrounds the building. In 2009 the 125th anniversary acts were celebrated and the façades of the building were restored. The works consisted of manual sanitation of damaged areas, both in artificial stone areas, as well as in restored parochial lime stalls. The paintwork coating was carried out using velours applied in different proportions according to the elements of the building: artificial stone, sgraffito or stucco of lime.

In the decoration of the exteriors, classic-inspired details (acroteris, fronton, atrium) and Egyptian (stylized leaves in the capitals of the columns, the schematization of the papyrus plant) were used, something quite unusual in the The architecture of Granell but which connects with the general interest that was had in ancient Egypt, especially as a result of the new archaeological discoveries, the opening of the Suez canal (1869) or the success of Verdi ‘s opera Aida (1871).

Porch: The entrance porch, with columns and tympanum, follows the same scheme as that of the Masonic lodges, crowned by the inscription Surge et ambula (Get up and walk) a cry for progress and progress. Balaguer himself chose these words as the motto of the Institution. They symbolize the passage from darkness to light, understood as knowledge and connects with the aromatic spirit of self-esteem.

Grade: The grid that surrounds the building was commissioned to the Earth and Marine Machinist.

Garden: During the construction of the institution, special attention was paid to the garden of the building, where acacias (related to the Masonic symbology), palm trees, eucalyptus and roses were planted, among others. The design is the work of the masterful gardener Joan Piera.

Sculptures: The main door of the building is flanked by two statues. The sculptural image of Archbishop Armanyà was placed in 1887, the work of Manuel Fuxà. The sculpture of the poet Manuel de Cabanyes settled six years later, the work of Josep Campeny. Víctor Balaguer arrived at the town in 1900. Both were restored on the occasion of the 125th anniversary.

Sgraffiti: The building was thought like a whole statement of intentions. The 18 graffiti that decorate the façade worked as informative and tribute elements. They were made by Josep Mirabent i Gatell (1831-1899), a painter and prestigious interior decorator who stood out for his works in the decoration of the Auditorium of the University of Barcelona and the ceiling of the Teatre del Liceu. The graffiti depict symbolic scenes of art and science, and some of them are interpreted in a masonic way. Víctor Balaguer was a mason, belonged to one of the two Great East of Spainexisting and obtained the degree 33 of Sovereign Great General Inspector, according to the Scottish Rite and Memphis. They were made with a mixture of lime and marble sand and located in the rectangular spaces delimited by the pilasters. The set represented the evolution of the humanistic disciplines organized into four blocks: art, science, technology and literature. The subsequent remodeling caused the esgrafiados of the later facade to be lost that referred to the History of artapplied to the industry or sumptuary art. At present only twelve sgraffiti are visible. Eight on the main façade, one on each side and two on the rear façade next to the library. The booths are preserved in the natural size of these graffiti. Throughout the years the graffiti had deteriorated markedly and thanks to the restoration work they were able to recover again.

Main façade (History of Great Art):
Egyptian art: The scene represents three Egyptian characters that symbolize the pictorial and sculptural arts. Two are sculptors and the third one seems to draw.
Greek art: Fídies is carving the famous Atenea (Minerva by the Romans) of gold and ivory for the Parthenon, while a young man works by carving a fragment of the porch. Fídies (V aC) is considered one of the best sculptors of all time.
Christian art: Fra Angelico de Beola appears by painting a virgin, a young man working on a capital and a sculpture. The medieval era is the moment of maximum splendor of the unions, in charge of the transfer of the craftsmanship.
Art of the Renaissance: Miquel Àngel is represented by contemplating his statue of Moses and a sculptor while working in a capital. At its feet the basic tools of the sculptor appear: the hammer and the chisel. It could be a representation of his workshop.

Main façade (History of sciences):
Egypt: There are three Egyptian astronomers, one of them has a compass, a measuring instrument for geometric and numerical calculations. The compass is part of the official macho symbolism and connects with its origins in the builders of the Middle Ages. Also it is possible to be referred to the construction of the universe, that for maçons was a perfect and harmonious work. Along with the compass astronomers also used the square, also Masonic symbol. The sun and the moon, from whose cycles the first measures of time were taken apart, also have their Masonic symbolism, and preside over the lodge, whose ceiling is decorated with constellations and stars, symbols of perfection, among which,Polar Star. The scene can symbolize the effort to overcome the knowledge.
Greece: There appears a Greek speaker who gives lessons to the people. The scene highlights the importance of the transition of knowledge between teacher and disciple. This relationship also exists in masonry, which is structured with a strict hierarchical order.
Modern era: Engraving in which we find Christopher Columbus arguing with the theologians of Salamanca.
Contemporary era: A selection of modern inventions is represented, and Gutenberg, the creator of the printing press, is located in a preferential place. The mechanics are represented by the steam engine, the navigation, the railroad, etc. As the last inventions of the time, the lightning rods, the bulb and the galvanic stack appear. The composition is a compendium of Balagueran thought, in particular and liberal, in general, always intimately linked to the idea of progress and modern.

North side: The time crowned by a clepsidra. The figure is flanked by two winged characters, of an Egyptian character, one of a classical character, the other.
South side: The time leading up to modern daylight hours that manages to distribute to other two geniuses of a Christian and Renaissance nature; palms, palms and crowns to the distinguished, winners or worshipers

Later façade (Literature and poetry)
In the origins they showed scenes from the history of literature and poetry. Due to the successive extensions of the building, nowadays only the scenes of Dante Alighieri are conserved reciting to Florence their songs to the crowd, and the images of Cervantes, Calderón de la Barca and Shakespeare as representatives of literature and poetry modern

Names: Apart from the scenes, the names of writers in the wing for library and artists are also inscribed on the facades of the museum. The sector of the library are: Cervantes, Desclot, Garcilaso, Ausiàs March, Feijoo, Ramon Llull, Capmany, Alfonso X and Jaime I. On the part of the museum are Arnau de Vilanova, Velázquez, Alí Bei, Berruguete, Campeny, Herrera, Viladomat, Murilloand Fortuny.

The technological advance is in the interior, in the structure of the roof, made with iron vaults. In the original building vaulting lowered are supported by trusses metallic curved perimeter. Later, in the successive extensions metallic beams of jealousy were used.

Pinacoteca: Main space where large-format paintings and sculptures are exhibited.

Saló María: Enlargement of 1892 to cover the bottom of sculpture. In this room were the works that the Catalan sculptors of the nineteenth that had given to the Museum as well as others that the founder had achieved for his institution. Some of the pieces were of a large volume, and for their transport the force of six men was needed. Keep in mind that at the end of the 19th century, sculpture was an era of splendor. With the redevelopment of the cities, it became one of the main elements in the decoration of public spaces. And at the same time it served to honor historical figures or ideas. The original content of the room has changed. Over time, the collection of decorative arts was relocated(Catalan tile and glass, coins and medals), replacing the sculptures were originally, until 2008 became the exhibition space of the tank Baroque painting Spanish and Flamenco del Prado.

Hall Isabel: Enlargement of 1898, initially welcomed the collection of ceramics, currencies, medals and the Egyptian collection, among others. In its beginnings, the collection of Egyptian art that Eduard Toda had given in 1886 to the Museum gathered together. It was the first collection of Egypt exhibited in Catalonia. Undoubtedly, the piece that caught most attention to this collection was the mummy of a 5-year-old boy, known as Mummy Nesi. Today, the Egyptian collection has its own scope, and the Isabel Room is intended for temporary exhibitions.

Related Post

Sala Silvela: Expansion of 1919 carried out by Font i Gumà and JFRàfols. The pictorial decoration of the ceiling was the responsibility of Francesc Garcia Escarré. Initially, he collected the collection of decorative arts, later he collected the old painting collection and the chair of the Board Room. Currently, after the reordering of 2008, the room exhibits a small sample of pharmaceutical tiles, glass and pots, and the ethnological collection of objects from pre – Columbian, Asian and Philippine America.

Rotonda: At the entrance to the building there is a roundabout that acts as a distributor between the library and the rooms of the museum and, besides the bust of Víctor Balaguer, you can see the portraits of several illustrious Vilanovins: Manuel de Cabanyes, Joan Serafí Vidal, Francesc de Sales Vidal, Sebastià Anton Pascual, Francesc Armanyà, Josep Ferrer Vidal, Salvador Samà and Magí Pers i Ramona. These portraits were the beginning of the illustrious Vilanovine Gallery that is exhibited on the board of the boardroom. On the walls there are four sketches of iconographies: History and Poetry at the corner of the library and Painting and Architecture for the museum. Spaces like these are organized following the provision of symbolic protection elements typical of Freemasonry.

Boardroom: The boardroom keeps a cadiz with the names of the board members and every anniversary Balaguer adds a portrait of a prominent personality of the social, literary, economic, religious or political sector of Vilanova.

Santa Teresa House
It is an isolated building located next to the Víctor Balaguer Museum Library and surrounded by a large garden, built in 1890 as a private home of Víctor Balaguer. He owes his name to his mother and to Santa Teresa, a bust of which is on the facade with one of his verses. I live without living in me. The building has a rectangular floor plan and consists of a basement, ground floor, elevated in relation to the floor, a floor and a roof where the staircase rises. The composition of the facades is almost symmetrical, with rectangular windows and very detached arc, bulls and tribunes. A perimeter molding separates the floor of the first floor decoratively. The building is crowned with a cornice and railing of balustersplans and presents a decoration of horizontal strips that simulate bricks. In one of the facades there is a bust of Santa Teresa, erected in memory of the mother of Víctor Balaguer, Teresa Cirera. It was designed by the municipal architect Bonaventura Pollés and Vivó and its construction was completed in 1889. At the beginning, the building had been built next to that of the Víctor Balaguer Library-Museum to host Víctor Balaguer in the Your stay in Vilanova. Later, when insufficient the space of the Library-Museum, it was used like dependancy of this institution. In 1915, the State arranged for the Library to separate from the Museum.

Casa Marquès de Castrofuerte
The House of Marquis Castrofuerte is a building listed as a protected monument as a cultural asset of local interest. It is a large canton building, with a rectangular floor plan, consisting of a ground floor, two floors and a flat roof. It has a lateral body of ground floor to the left of the facade of c / Monturiol. The main facade is symmetrical. The ground floor, currently modified, presents as an original element an access door bounded by branches that imitate pillars with capitals. The two upper floors have balconies with iron railings and two different flares that are arranged at an alternate rate. The crowning of the building is formed by a cornice maintained byBrackets and an ironing railing with a centered fronton that shows the date of 1883. The most remarkable ornamental elements are the sgraffiti, in horizontal bands and medallions, the corbels of the corbels and palms.

Conceived with the intention of publicizing, through objects and documents of all kinds, all the knowledge, its founder contributed books, magazines and documents of all kinds. The intention of the founder was that it was open to any citizen, without exclusion of economic or social type, thus advancing to the first public libraries in Catalonia. In addition to books, following successive donations and exchanges of publications, the library had manuscripts, photographs, engravings, maps, parchments, among other outstanding documents. As in the case of the Museum, here too donations of great importance are received such as the Library ofManuel Pers i Fontanals, the one of the Chilean engineer Francesc Lluch i Rafecas, the collection of menus of the Dr. Thebussem, by Eduard Toda, by the poet Josefa Massanès, by Marià Aguiló… and even an exchange of duplicates was established with the Sociedad Científica de Aude in Sweden. The relation that Balaguer maintained with the intellectuals of the time also favored the arrival of bibliographical material of different international origins. In 1884 the library already had gas lighting thanks to the proximity of the Industrial Union factory.

Joan Oliva i Milà was in charge of developing the library catalog. This, due to the desire of Balaguer, and to way of training, visited the main libraries of France and England to learn the trade according to the European canons. The careful and meticulous work carried out by Oliva in the cataloging of the collection made the Library a reference space for consultation and study. Many personalities of Catalan culture moved, such as Antoni Elias de Molins, Felip Pedrell and Francesc Macià. The Library, however, was not an exclusive space for intellectuals but also, and above all, for the workers and people of the people. He tried to open up culture and knowledge to everyone. A long marble table filled with the current press was one of the best reclamations. Until 1965, it was the only public library in Vilanova i la Geltrú.

It currently has around 50,000 books and almost 2,000 titles of periodicals from the 18th and 20th centuries. In addition, we have to take into account the collection of some 50,000 letters and various literary and political manuscripts by Víctor Balaguer. All of this makes it one of the richest 19th century bibliographic collections in Catalonia.

It also has documents, personal and / or artistic archives of personalities such as Enric Cristòfor Ricart, Joan Alemany i Moyà, and Eduard Toldrà, as well as Joan Rius i Vila’s personal bibliographical collection, José Cruset or the gastronomic Joan Enric Roig Santacana, among others. In the reading room of the Víctor Balaguer Library are the busts of Dante, Calderón de la Barca and Cervantes as significant exponents of universal letters.

The Víctor Balaguer Museum has a nineteenth-century aesthetic. The pieces that are exposed at present correspond to what at the time was considered modern painting, that is, what was being done at that time. There was also an old painting section. The chronological fan went from Baroque to the beginning of the 19th century. Most were portraits, landscapes and costumbral painting. Keep in mind that in 1884 there were no museums open to the public in Catalonia where permanent works were permanently exhibited. Balaguer created a Catalan art gallery with names as representative as Martí Alsina, Joaquim Vayreda, Ramon Casas and Santiago Rusiñol, with regard to painting, and Damià Campeny or the Vallmitjana brothers, as far as sculpture is concerned. The first museum layout was given by Josep Ferrer i Soler, one of the members of the board.

Like the former collectors of the nineteenth century, the collection is divided into several collections, due to the multidisciplinary interest of Balaguer. Although the bulk of the collection was given by the same Balaguer, over the years the museum has been incorporating and enriching its collections with various acquisitions and donations. In 2011, the museum’s artistic collection consisted of more than 7,000 different objects. Since the foundation year of the museum, the Prado Museum has been deposited several works, which are renewed periodically. Often this deposit is made up of Castilian, Valencian and Andalusian painting from the 16th to the 18th century, including works by renowned artists such as El Greco, Goya or Ribera, others. The museum also conserves the 19th century Catalan municipal painting collection, which until 1996 was exposed to the Castell de la Geltrú.

Baroque painting
In the so-called Sala Prado (former Saló María) there is an important Baroque painting set, from the Prado Museum’s repository. With works such as The Holy Family of El Greco and paintings by Luca Giordano, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Rubens, Ribera, Goya, etc. There are represented the Castilian and Andalusian school and, to a lesser extent, the Flemish and the Italian. The paintings are distributed in four major thematic areas: religious painting, portrait, mythology and nature, which also includes dead natures.

19th century painting and sculpture
The pinacoteques were large lounges of fine arts in which they mixed the painting and the sculpture, without chronological or thematic order. Very different from the disposition that present the works nowadays in the rooms of the Museums. The room is largely maintained, as it also happens in the Library, the original aspect of the period. The Sala de la Pinacoteca comprises one of the best collections of Catalan painting from the 19th century, with works by Santiago Rusiñol, Ramon Casas, Joaquim Vayreda, Martí Alsina, Pau Carbonell and Dionís Baixeras, among others, showing basically the original collection of the founder and paintings given to the museum by the artists themselves. The works are exhibited in chronological order to evoke the school of Rome on the Catalan art of the nineteenth century. It stands out the painting The defense of the park of Monteleón de Sorolla, popularly known as El Dos de Mayo, property of the Prado Museum.

Painting and sculpture of the twentieth century
The paintings and sculptures of leading artists from the first half of the 20th century are exhibited in the rooms of the first half of the 20th century, such as Santiago Rusiñol, Ramon Casas, Anglada Camarasa, Joaquim Mir, Isidre Nonell, Francesc Domingo, or Xavier Nogués, among others.. Many of these paintings are works of small format, which were brought to the Institution in 1956, the year that gives name to the Legacy 56. Related to the local history there is a room with paintings of the ” An old Café Fomento and a brief section with works by the Vilanova School.

Also on this floor is the collection of contemporary art from the 1950s and 1960s, with pictures by Ràfols Casamada, Hernández Pijuan, Tharrats, Guinovart, Antonio Saura… and sculptures by Àngel Ferrant i Andreu Alfaro, among others. Most of the works in this collection come from the bottom of the first Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona, founded in 1960, which was ceded to the Library Museum four years after its closure in 1963. S ‘ thus preventing the dispersion of this important set, considered as the informalist art collectionmore complete of Catalonia. The Museum also has a temporary exhibition hall.

Egyptian collection
The collection has an Egyptian room where there are authentic objects from the time of Ancient Egypt. It stands out due to its uniqueness, the small mummy of a five-year-old child, called Nesi, one of the only five mummies that are currently conserved in Catalan museums. The Egyptian collection of the Museum is the first to be trained in Catalonia, and was donated in 1886 by Eduard Toda i Güell, a diplomat and writer, and a close collaborator with Víctor Balaguer in the Renaixença movement. Some of the pieces of the set come from the tomb of Sennedjem in Deir el Medina (West Tebes), in whose discovery Eduard Toda participated. The library also received an important donation of books, photographs, postcards from Everything that collected in its trips as a diplomat around the world.

Pre-Columbian Collection
The pre-Columbian collection brings together objects from the most significant areas of Mesoamerica, especially the plateau of Mexico, Central America and South America. Many of the pieces of the collection were donated to the Museum by diplomats and illustrious figures who traveled to the area and that in some cases participated in archaeological excavations. One of the people who contributed to this fund was the Baroness of Wilson, Emília Serrano (1834-1922). The presence in Catalonia of objects from pre-Columbian cultures began in the 19th century, when sailors and merchants, known as Indians, when returning home, they brought the curiosities collected or bought in the Americas.

Filipino Collection
The collection is made up of everyday objects, wars and objects of religious worship, from international exhibitions such as the Anthropological Science Contest of Paris in 1878 or the General Exhibition of the Philippines at the Crystal Palace of the Gardens of the Retirement of Madrid, 1887, that Víctor Balaguer, then, Minister of Overseas, managed to keep some of the objects of the sample for his project.

Oriental collection
The Eastern collection is formed from three great donations: Eduard Toda, Francesc Abellá and Juan Mencarini. All of them characters favored by their relationship with Víctor Balaguer. Of the set of this unique collection, it is necessary to emphasize the numismatic fund given by Juan Mencarini, official of the Chinese imperial customs. Formed for its direct purchase in China and to have represented almost all the dynasties of the Chinese imperial past, it was given in 1888.

Archaeological collection
The archaeological collection consists of two large blocks. The foundational donations from different parts of the country and the excavation tickets to the territory, especially in the counties of Garraf, Alt Penedès and Baix Penedès. The main departments represented are Darró, Solicrup, Masia Nova, Cova Verda and Cova de Can Sadurní. Within the block corresponding to the foundational donations, two groups are distinguished: the donations in life of Víctor Balaguer, and post-Balaguerian donations, until 1939. The figure of Eduard Toda i Güell As one of the main patrons of the institution, in addition to the Egiptology collection, he donated a collection of glass and Roman and Punic ceramics.

Decorative arts
This collection is a collection of other small collections (glass, ceramics and metal) that give a more rounded image of Víctor Balaguer’s passion for collecting. Small samples, but with exceptional objects such as a Mozarabic mortar from the 12th century.

Tags: Spain