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A Brief History of the Museum


The final stage in the reconstruction and restoration of Cuenca's Casas Colgadas [Hanging Houses] begins under municipal architect Francisco León Meler.


Fernando Zóbel looks for a location in Spain to house his collection of contemporary Spanish art. Gustavo Torner, whom he had met at the Venice Biennale in 1962, suggests the possibility of the Hanging Houses in Cuenca.


Zóbel writes to the city council of Cuenca offering to install his collection in the city's Hanging Houses (20 August).

The official terms and conditions for the public bidding process aimed at ceding the use of part of the Hanging Houses as the future venue for a museum are published (3 October). Part of the building is awarded to Zóbel on a rental basis (30 December).


Cuenca's city council, presided by Rodrigo Lozano de la Fuente, officially appoints the committee of the future Museo de Arte Abstracto Español.

Zóbel promotes the first editions of artist's prints, which will subsequently become a hallmark of the museum. 1965 The


The city council of Cuenca and Zóbel sign the contract for the cession of the use of the Hanging Houses (24 September).


The museum is officially inaugurated (30 June). The initial collection consists of 266 works by 87 artists representing the generation of Spanish abstract creators of the 1950s. It is partially shown on a rotating basis in the spaces initially designated as exhibition halls.

The first poster and the first catalog of the museum—with photographs by Fernando Nuño and text and design by Fernando Zóbel— are published, launching an extremely active editorial program that continues to this day.

Alfred H. Barr, founder and first director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, visits the museum (25 December) and is named honorary curator.


The first extension to the museum is inaugurated (26 October). Tripling in size the original space, it includes a public library specializing in contemporary international art and with a sizeable collection of newspapers and periodicals, as well as books on oriental art and poetry collected by Zóbel. The spaces occupied by the archive and storage rooms are also enlarged, and a Renaissance doorway from an old palace in Villarejo de la Peñuela (Cuenca) is added to the façade.

The collection is increased with a significant number of works by the next generation of abstract artists, that of the 1970s, which partly continue the aesthetic proposals of the previous generation.


The Museo de Arte Abstracto Español is awarded the Gold Medal for Merit in the Fine Arts by the Spanish Ministry of Culture.

Zóbel donates his entire collection of paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints to the Fundación Juan March, as well as his personal library, diaries and more than 130 sketchbooks.


The Fundación Juan March officially accepts the bequest of Zóbel's collection (5 June).


The first temporary exhibitions organized by the Fundación Juan March in Cuenca take place. Due to the lack of space, they are held outside the museum.


Fernando Zóbel dies in Rome (2 June).

The exhibition Fernando Zóbel is inaugurated at the Madrid venue of the Fundación Juan March. It subsequently travels to various Spanish cities, including Cuenca.


The Museo de Arte Abstracto Español is awarded the Gold Medal of Castilla-La Mancha.

The Fundación Juan March publishes a portfolio to mark the museum's 25th anniversary. It includes silkscreens by Luis Feito, José Guerrero, Antonio Lorenzo, Manuel Hernández Mompó, Manuel Rivera, Gerardo Rueda and Gustavo Torner.


Building work is undertaken to convert the areas occupied by the archive, library and storage room into a temporary exhibition hall, which is inaugurated with the exhibition Fernando Zóbel. Río Júcar [Fernando Zóbel: Júcar River].


The Fundación Juan March publishes a portfolio to mark the museum's 30th anniversary. It includes works by Eduardo Chillida, Pablo Palazuelo, Antonio Saura and Antoni Tàpies.


The carved, painted ceiling in one of the museum's Gothic rooms (the former chapel of Canon Gonzalo González de Cañamares) is restored under the supervision of Luis Priego, professor at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid.

Some of the rooms on the top floor of the building are redesigned to house the workshop of the museum's educational program, which begins its activities this same year.


The Fundación Juan March promotes the organization of temporary exhibitions at the museum, devoted to both artists represented in the collection and international figures, and focusing on the major names and trends in modern art.

The museum implements its educational program, aimed at diverse spheres of the community, through didactic activities based on the works of art that are part of the permanent collection and of temporary exhibitions. Organized in collaboration with the School of Fine Arts at the Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, which also provides the working spaces, it promotes courses and lecture series on subjects relating to art history and the different tendencies in contemporary art.


Between June and September the museum celebrates its first forty years of existence by bringing together many of the artists represented in its collection in the exhibition La ciudad abstracta. 1966: el nacimiento del Museo de Arte Abstracto Español [The Abstract City. 1966: The Birth of the Museo de Arte Abstracto Español].

An extensive book-catalog of the same title is published to celebrate the occasion. The Fundación Juan March publishes a commemorative print portfolio with works by Alejandro Corujeira, Pelayo Ortega, Alberto Reguera and Daniel Verbis.

This year also sees the implementation of the restoration and conservation plan for the works in the collection that are on display to the public, which concludes successfully six years later with all the works in a perfect state of conservation.


The Fundación Juan March pays tribute to Zóbel on the 25th anniversary of his death by displaying all his sketchbooks and restoring all the works by his hand belonging to its collection.


This year marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Museo de Arte Abstracto Español.

Starting this year, the Fundación Juan March establishes free admission for all visitors to the museum.

Following the cession by Cuenca's city council of a new space in the part of the building previously occupied by the restaurant Mesón Casas Colgadas, the Fundación Juan March enlarges the spaces used for both the permanent and temporary display of works, allowing for a small increase in the number of works on show. In addition, the spaces previously reserved for in-house purposes are remodeled, modernized and reorganized, increasing the space available for visitor use. Some of these areas, which include historical elements from the original fifteenth-century construction, were the ones used originally as exhibition halls in 1966.

The educational program's workshop is enlarged in order to meet the increasing demand from the educational community. The spaces destined to temporary exhibitions are updated to ensure optimum conditions for the conservation of works of art, while the museum regains multi-functional spaces previously occupied by its research library, by the library bequeathed by Zóbel and by the museum's historical archive. Other spaces are regained for different activities and for the museum's collections of prints and artists' books.

The governing body of Castilla-La Mancha awards the Fundación Juan March the plaque for Cultural Merit.