MUSEO IBERO DE JAEN / IBERIAN MUSEUM, JAEN
by Fiona Flores-Watson
The Museo Ibero (Iberian Museum) is located in Jaen city and is dedicated to the prehistoric Iberian culture of Spain.
Intended to raise city's profile, on a regional, national and international level, it is the only museum celebrating this pre-Roman civilisation, and has the largest collection of Iberian art in the world.
This lengthy period in the country's early history, from the 7th to 1st centuries BC, is the least documented, as compared to Moorish, Visigothic, Roman and even Tartessian times.
The aim of the 26-million-euro museum is to offer a broad vision of Iberian culture through its art and archaeology, with 3,500 pieces, as well as promoting conservation, research and diffusion through anthropological and archaeological studies. The site, where Paseo de la Estacion and Avenida de Muñoz Grande meet, formerly held a prison. In a striking contemporary cubist style, the museum was designed by Spanish architects EDDEA. Inside is an airy space with high ceilings and curved balconies.
Three of the museum's most famous pieces are the iconic Dama de Elche - a stone carved head with detailed jewellery and headdress (5th-4th century BC); the guerrero de la doble armadura (the warrior with double armour) - a head and one-armed torso with weaponry (5th century BC); and a bull.
The 11,000m2 museum consists of the following areas: permanent exhibition (2,500m2), temporary exhibition, shop, cafeteria, classrooms and conference room, as well as public access spaces and an information point. It also holds the collection of the provincial museum, with pre-Roman artefacts.
The museum opened in December 2017 and as of Jan 2019, only the temporary exhibition space is open; the rest of the museum is still being finished. The inaugural exhibition is "La dama, el principe, el heroe y la diosa" - The lady, the prince, the hero and the goddess. These names refer to four archaeological pieces and images: a dama (lady) from Cerrillo Blanco (Porcuna); the prince, represented by the double-armoured warrior, also from Cerrillo Blanco; the hero from El Pajarillo (Huelma); and the goddess of los Caprinos de Cerrillo Blanco. Around 40 per cent of the 300 pieces in this show have not been seen before.
Jaen province has a total of 545 Iberian archaeological sites, including fortified towns Cástulo (Linares), Giribaile (Vilches) and Puente Tablas (Jaén), sanctuaries in El Pajarillo (Huelma) and la Cueva de la Lobera (Castellar) and funerary sites Toya y Hornos (Peal de Becerro).
The influence of Iberian art extends throughout the centuries, with one notable example being Les Demoiselles d'Avignon by Pablo Picasso. Iberian warriors were noted for their extreme bravery and fearlessness, and were contracted as mercenaries by both the Greeks and Romans.
Paseo de Estacion 41, 23008 Jaen. Tel: 953 001 692
Summer (1 July to 31 August)
Monday to Sunday 09.00 to 15.00 hrs
Rest of year (1 Septemeber to 30 June)
Tuesday to Saturday 09.00 to 20.00 hrs
Sundays, holidays, and Mondays before holidays: 9.00 to 15.00
Closed Mondays, 1 and 6 January, 1 May, 24, 25, 31 December
Guided tours: Wed, Fri-Sun 12.00, Tues & Thurs 18.00. Call to confirm
Dramatised visits also available, as well as workshops with themes such as "The wolf as a sacred animal", "The Iberian woman", and "Death in the Iberian world".
Tel: 953 001 696 and 953 001 697
1.50€ but free to citizens of EU