A graduate in Philosophy & Letters with a PhD in Law, Juan de Dios de la Rada y Delgado (Almería, 8 April 1829 – Madrid, 3 August 1901) was a professor at the School of Diplomatics and director of the establishment from 1876 to 1900.
Although he cultivated other facets such as law and politics, he was primarily a reputed archaeologist associated throughout his career with the National Archaeological Museum, which he joined in April 1868 and where he played an instrumental role in organising and classifying the collections and in mounting the first exhibition at the Casino de la Reina. He worked in various sections, but most notably in the first section, Primitive Civilisations or Prehistory and Classical Antiquity.
Rada y Delgado created a system for organising and scientifically classifying the collections, which he first published in the Catálogo del Museo Arqueológico Nacional. Sección Primera (1883) improving the already published in the Noticia Histórico-Descriptiva del Museo Arqueológico Nacional (1876), of which he is considered the chief author. He also founded and edited the journal Museo Español de Antigüedades.
He participated in several of the scientific committees organised by the museum to augment its collections, and led the expedition on board the frigate Arapiles when it sailed around the Mediterranean in 1871.
In 1875 he became a fellow of the Royal Academy of History, where he gave an acceptance speech on “The antiquities at Cerro de los Santos in Montealegre”, and his name is associated with the birth of the study of Iberian archaeology.
Appointed director of the museum on 19 February 1891, he set about organising the long-anticipated move from the Casino de la Reina to the new premises at the Palace of the National Library and Museums. The removal of the artefacts commenced in 1892, coinciding with the commemorative exhibitions for the 400th anniversary of the Discovery of America. Preparing, moving and installing thousands of objects in their new home must have been extraordinarily complex and its success clearly demonstrates Rada y Delgado’s organisational capacity. After the commemorative exhibitions closed, the collections were re-organised and the new installation was inaugurated on 5 July 1895.
Rada y Delgado, regarded in some circles as the most prestigious Spanish archaeologist of his day, resigned from his post on 8 August 1900.Salto de línea