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The National Museum of Anthropology (1993-2016)

The National Museum of Anthropology (1993-2016)
Historia del museo

The new direction the museum took at the end of the above period naturally led to the creation of the National Museum of Anthropology - with which it recovered its former name - through the merging of the National Museum of Ethnology and the Museum of the Spanish People, under Royal Decree 684/1993, of 7 May. As explained by Andrés Carretero in the first edition of what would for years be the common journal, our Annals, the aim of this ambitious operation was to “overcome the separation between one’s own and another’s, the dichotomy of the we/you, (...) to disseminate the values of pluralism and intercultural understanding”.

Unfortunately, this union was never consummated beyond its “papers”, and the two institutions continued to function independently until they were again separated administratively in 2004. Two consecutive Royal Decrees (119/2004 and 120/2004, of 23 January) respectively led to our museum becoming the only one which, from that moment on, would hold the name of National Museum of Anthropology, and to the creation of the Costume Museum Ethnological Heritage Research Centre, allocated the collections of the former Museum of the Spanish People.

With the project to merge the two museums aborted, the one which now remained as the only National Museum of Anthropology immediately focused on undertaking the entrusted mission: disseminating the values of cultural diversity. To that purpose, it addressed between 2004 and 2008 various stages of a new renovation of its permanent exhibition which can still be found today, with slight adjustments, in its rooms by anyone coming to the museum.

But perhaps the most important renovation that has taken place since then is much more intangible and is actually permitting the museum to become a much more open and socially relevant space in which diversity is not learned but lived, experienced. We are referring to the conversion of this permanent exhibition and, by extension, of the former MNA building in the context of an intense and dynamic programme of interactive school visits, concerts, workshops and activities for different visitors, and temporary exhibitions committed to the values it defends, in line with other museums which have committed to abandoning solemnity and a dogmatic relationship with their visitors and, based on the participation of everyone, aspire to building towards living in constant transformation, like the multicultural world to which they are aiming...