José Amador de los Ríos (Baena, Córdoba, 30 April 1818 – Seville, 17 February 1878) was secretary of the Central Monuments Committee in 1844 and in 1848 held the Literature chair at the Central University. A member of the Royal Academy of History, in 1859 he took part in the academy’s commission to conduct excavations at Guarrazar and was subsequently instrumental in reclaiming the hoard for Spain after the site was looted and the treasures taken to France.
On 5 February 1868 he was appointed director of the National Archaeological Museum, where he concentrated his efforts on adapting the spaces and augmenting the collections.
At the Casino de la Reina he turned the buildings that surrounded the chapel into a single complex with seven large halls, filled the ground-floor rooms in the palace with shelves, and installed the 18th-century coin cabinet on the first floor to display the classified pieces. He also built a pavilion for restoration tasks and turned the old greenhouse into a gallery for the Ethnography section.
Meanwhile, work continued on inventorying and classifying the collections, the basis for the scientific catalogue for which, according to Amador’s report for the Ministry of Public Instruction, the museum was “divided into four provisional sections which in due course will have to be rectified, in keeping with scientific archaeological principles: [...] Ethnography Section [...] European Antiquities Section [...] Epigraphy Section [...] Numismatic Section”.
Determined to expand the collections, Amador de los Ríos contacted individuals and institutions and his efforts were rewarded by numerous acquisitions, especially from Córdoba, such as the artefacts found by Maraver during his excavations at the Iberian necropolises of Fuente Tójar and Almedinilla, and the objects from Cerro Muriano sent by Vilanova and Tubino. Meanwhile, a long-term loan arrived from the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts, as well as countless objects gathered by the provincial monument committees.
When the museum was attacked during the Glorious Revolution of 1868, Amador de los Ríos organised its defence by giving weapons to the staff. After being attacked on the streets on 16 November 1868, he sought refuge at the Ministry of Public Works and submitted his resignation. He abandoned his post that same day. Salto de línea