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History of the Museum and the Cerralbo Villa-Huerta family

foto de la familia subido en un globo.

The Cerralbo Palace was the home of the 17th Marquis of Cerralbo, Enrique de Aguilera y Gamboa, and his family: his wife Inocencia Serrano y Cerver and his children Antonio and Amelia del Valle.

The Marquis of Cerralbo was a multifaceted character who stood out as a politician, collector, historian and pioneer of archaeology in Spain. Loyal to the Carlist cause, in 1890 he became the representative in Spain of Don Carlos de Borbón, pretender to the throne.

In the field of archaeology, he backed more than a hundred archaeological excavations throughout the Jalón basin. The most extensive account of his work can be found in his "Páginas de la Historia Patria por mis excavaciones arqueológicas” (“Pages on National History through my archaeological excavations”), which won the Martorell International Prize in 1911.

His interest in collecting resulted in the family acquiring numerous objects from auction houses, antique dealers and exhibitions during his many travels. This palace was consequently designed as a place for them to live in and as a place to house the collections that would eventually become a museum.

The construction of the main building and the pavilion began in 1883. The project was carried out by the architects Alejandro Sureda, Luis Cabelló Asó and Luis Cabello Lapiedra. The Cerralbo Villa-Huerta family inaugurated the new building in 1893. They would continue to reside there until 1927, when Amelia del Valle, the last member of the family, died.

Upon his death in 1922, the Marquis of Cerralbo bequeathed his collections, part of the building and income to the State to support the future museum. The bequest was accepted in 1924; in 1927, his stepdaughter, Amelia del Valle, made an additional bequest.

In his will, the Marquis of Cerralbo himself appointed Juan Cabré Aguiló as the museum's first curator (1922-1939). Cabré Aguiló’s work was fundamental, as he carried out the general inventory of the museum's collections and was responsible for adapting it to its new use and protecting it during the Civil War.