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“From Picasso to a Unique Automobile & Fashion Museum: 5 Compelling Reasons to Visit Malaga, Spain”
A trip to Malaga is more than a visit to the capital of Costa Del Sol. With its population of around 600,000, the seaside city and port is packed with art and culture in all its forms. There are three museums dedicated to its native son and world-famous artist Pablo Picasso, works of the painter Felix Revello De Toro, and a surprise find too— a museum dedicated to the concept of art in motion, the Automobile and Fashion Museum, aka Museo Automovilistico.
Housed in an old tobacco factory, the Automobile and Fashion Museum delivers that wow factor you want in a museum. Here, visitors will find an extraordinary private collection spread across 6,000 square metres, presented in 13 thematic areas that describe the artistic evolution from the late 19th century. Displays vary from the earliest concept of transport, from horse drawn carriages to the extravagance of the Cadillac and onto futuristic models relying on alternative energy.
While the museum features 100 exclusive and restored vehicles, it also appeals to those interested in fashion, with hats, garments and accessories that reflect the glitz and glamour of days gone by from fashion designers such as Balenciaga, Chanel, Dior, Lanvin, Balmain and more.
1. Art in Motion
This is a circuit of art in motion, with a spotlight on automobiles and fashion. It’s an artistic, cultural and colourful perspective on the evolving development of the carriage and car shaped by economic and society demands.
The Belle Époque was the time between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the first world war. This was the time when aristocracy were the only titleholders of cars, when high society demanded comfortable interiors. The Aristocratic on display is embellished with luxurious interiors of velvet, silk and wood, glittering with crystals and gold details. It is also kitted out with a telephone to call the driver, and space on top for the designer suitcases. Pure opulence.
Cars denoted status. The Packard in 1939 was seen transporting President Roosevelt and King George VI of England, who sipped port wine from the wooden minibar. Also on display is the only 12- cylinder Rolls Royce, which Barbara Hutton adored. With only 175 made, the Chrysler Imperial was used by heads of state. In 1956, this impressive model collected Grace Kelly from the ship that brought her to New York.
Cars were created and styled for their purpose. The Rolls Royce Hunting car in 1932 was built with a wooden body to make it appear more rustic. It was used by colonels of the British Colony in India to hunt tigers. In contrast, the Chevrolet Impala was christened after the graceful antelope, in name and appearance only, noticeable with its sleek, low, long and wide appearance coated with black and gold gradient paint.
The 1930’s were noted for Art Deco, a period that brought signature designs and colour by artists who created cars with aesthetics, luxury and elegance in mind, such as Mercedes and Bugatti. The car became rolling works of art and sculpture. Designer cars were, and still are, created to surprise and shock, to make a statement, such as the Surrealist Car, inspired by Salvador Dali, in the 1930s by Louis Renault.
Tuning hot rods stands as the ultra artistic expression of transforming old and damaged cars. Think wheel rims, varnish flame designs and skulls crafted into contemporary art in motion.
The Jet Set Car
2. Cars in Motion Pictures
What would motion pictures be without the car chase or arrival in a chic machine? On parade at the museum are replicas of the Coupe De Ville by Renault, as seen in Downton Abbey as well as in the movie, Titanic. Bond’s iconic Aston Martin, alongside a Mercedes’ Gull Wing are also in the line-up as is the Auburn, featured in The Great Gatsby. Each is dressed with models sporting wardrobes of the time.
Mention Elvis and you think Pink Cadillac. These represent the American culture and style of the 50s in Hollywood. In full glory is The Eldorado of 1959 with aircraft-type fins and fenders, a panoramic windscreen and shiny chrome, all symbols of the “All American Dream”. Even Picasso owned one or two.
A copy of John Lennon’s Rolls Royce is painted in the psychedelic colours of the hippie 1960s. The car was used by his Beatles band mates, and he kindly lent it to The Rolling Stones as well as Bob Dylan.
A contemporary rendition of a black Rolls Royce is studded with Swarovski crystals displayed as The Jet Set Car, with mock portraits of Michael Jackson and Joan Collins (who else!).
Rolls Royce Phantom VI
3. Sustainable Malaga
Sustainability isn’t a new concept in cars. In 1910 came the first electric car, and in 1916 the solar car. By the 20th century, the idea and ambition for alternative energy was underway. Examples of such visionary cars using steam, electric, air compression and hydrogen can be viewed at the museum. Sustainability remains a priority for the future vision of the automobiles and for the city of Malaga too.
Malaga is extremely walkable and attractions such as the Automobile and Fashion Museum are convenient to get to on foot on the City Sightseeing Hop on Hop Off bus, which also offers a cruise around Malaga Bay.
Malaga’s urban public bus company, EMT, continues to make progress toward its goal of having a zero-emission fleet by 2030, and is easily reachable via high speed trains from other Spanish cities.
This museum is housed in one of Malaga´s most architecturally stunning buildings – the old tobacco factory.
4. Historic Malaga
Away from the exhibition, take the time to explore Malaga’s historical city centre. Malaga is one of the world’s oldest cities, founded by the Phoenicians in 770 BC. Though it has changed hands many times since then, a trail of rich cultural history and spectacular architecture remains for visitors to appreciate. From Phoenician to Roman, Arabic to Baroque, each style is as eye-catching and intriguing as the last, creating a wondrous architectural tapestry to admire in Malaga.
Soak up the city’s incredible history with a visit to Alcazaba Fortress, Malaga’s Roman Theatre, the 14th century Gibralfaro Castle, Malaga Cathedral, Plaza de la Constitución, and plenty more. Grab a map and go, or sign up for a walking tour.
A statue of Pablo Picasso who found inspiration in Malaga
5. Modern Malaga
Malaga is not just a city of traditions and history, it’s also forward-looking, highly developed and modern. In fact, Malaga is the business capital of southern Spain, with national and international companies located here.
As the gateway to the Costa del Sol, Malaga’s infrastructure supports tourism better than anywhere else in the country. Malaga’s international airport is the largest in Spain and it has ports, highways, bus and train stations that link Malaga with the rest of the world.
Malaga is also getting more and more WiFi savvy, including in the city centre, on some buses, in most hotels, at the airport, and more. Here’s a handy hotspot guide.
Modern Malaga trickles down to the streets too. Just wander the city to see the latest chefs and creators opening restaurants and cocktail bars that attract energetic crowds of all ages. See for yourself on a tapas tour!
Malaga is also home to modern art and museums, such as the aforementioned Museo Automovilistico.
You’ll also find world-class music and theatre festivals, and concerts that create a vibrant scene in one of Spain’s most beautiful cities.
The Malaga Cathedral was founded in the 15th century – Malaga City Tourist Board
BeSeeingYou In: Malaga
Good to know: Málaga is world-renowned for its seafood, including its boquerones, otherwise known as anchovies, which you’ll find everywhere.
Wow! Factor: Malaga’s atmosphere was a muse for some of the recurring themes in Picasso’s work such as flamenco, doves and bulls.
Tip: With mercury and visitor numbers climbing during summer months, consider a late May or late September visit.
Author bio: Jane Wilson
Photos courtesy of the Malaga City Tourist Board.