Like many great cities, Madrid has dozens of small galleries and institutions that widen the cultural offer to the visitor. And even the resident. There is a bit of everything out there, but they are almost always worth a visit. Here are two.
It had been a long time since I went to the Fundación Juan March up on Castelló Street, so I decided to go up there and see how it was doing. On the way there, I hoped to buy some stamps to send letters off to my daughters at camp, but it turns out the tabacco shop, where you normally get them, is closed down. If that doesn’t tell you the direction of smoking in Spain I can’t think of what does. I mean, these businesses used to be as stable as banks. Oops, I guess that’s a bad analogy these days. Anyway, I took a bus up to the top of the Castelló street and doubled back a little to the museum.
Juan March is a philanthropic foundation created over 50 years ago by the financial wizard of the same name whose families held one of the greatest fortunes in Spain at the time. The foundation has supported and financed hundred, probably thousands of events of the arts, including painting, sculpture, photogrpahy, music. Plus it’s free, so even if you don’t like it you don’t feel as if you are any poorer for it. Today they had a very small exhibit featuring 13 etchings done by Picasso for a book written by Balzac. It’s always good to see Picasso even if I wasn’t enthralled this time. Juan March is always an option worth considering in Madrid.
After that I cut down a few streets to another gallery run by a foundation known as the Fundación Carlos de Amberes. Created way back in 1594 (yes, that’s before the English settled successfully in Virginia) it just happens to be arguably the oldest non-profit private foundation in Europe. Originally it served as a hospìtal and shelter for poor travelers and pilgrims from one of the seventeen provinces of the Netherlands, but twenty years ago, it turned into an entirely cultural center. There I saw a collection of Montblanc pens, all costing at the very least, well over what I make a month, but interesting all the same. Of course, viewing pens has to sort of be something that would entertain you, or at least imaging it would. And if not, wait a few weeks and see what comes up in the future. Carlos de Amberes is located at Calle Claudio Coello 99.
It’s always goo to keep these places in mind when looking for something different to do. They don’t drain your time or your wallet and they often surprise you…pleasantly, of course.