Blas Taracena Aguirre

Director from 3 April 1939 to 1 February 1951

Blas Taracena

 

Blas Taracena Aguirre (Soria, 1 December 1865 – Madrid, 1 February 1951) obtained degrees in Philosophy & Letters and Law from the Central University in Madrid. In 1915 he passed the state examination to join the Specialist Corps of Archivists, Librarians and Archaeologists and was appointed director of the newly created Numantine Museum in Soria, where he remained until 1936. The following year he was appointed director of the Provincial Archaeological Museum in Córdoba, and between 1938 and 1939 he occupied the post of Chief Museum Inspector. He was director of the National Archaeological Museum from 1939 until he passed away.

Taracena dedicated his mandate to re-organising the museum, namely removing the artefacts that fell outside the museum’s jurisdiction and obtaining funding to re-open the facility to the public. In order to concentrate his efforts on these tasks, he abandoned his duties as Chief Museum Inspector, hitherto combined with those of director of the National Archaeological Museum, and created a separate post, which was occupied by Joaquín María Navascués (1940).

Between 1939 and 1948, during the removal of the external collections and the donation of approximately 10,700 objects to the National Museum of Ethnology, the Museum of Decorative Arts and the Museum of the Americas, he set about organising an exhibition of the museum’s most iconic pieces. Thus emerged the “Concise Exhibition of Spanish Antiquities” (1940-1951), also known as the “Museum in Brief”, accompanied by the publication Guía de las instalaciones de 1940. Resumen de la arqueología española. There was also an exhibition of gold and silver objects and liturgical garments, organised by Joaquín María de Navascués (1941-1942), with an accompanying catalogue by Emilio Camps and Felipa Niño, and the Early Modern Era Pottery galleries were inaugurated. The return to normal museum functions was also marked by the publication of a book entitled Adquisiciones del Museo Arqueológico Nacional (1940-1945).

Although in 1940 the Board of Trustees had approved the remodelling project submitted by the architect Luis Moya, which included the most pressing works, and despite the fact that funds were found to carry out various improvements during the next eleven years, in February 1951 many of the artefacts were still packed away in the Arab courtyard, storerooms and even the curators’ offices. A great deal of work still remained to be done.