Pedro Felipe Monlau y Roca

Director from 12 June 1867 to 4 February 1868

 

Paulino Savirón y Esteban

Pedro Felipe Monlau (Barcelona, 30 May 1808 – Madrid, 18 February 1871) received a well-rounded education encompassing both the sciences and humanities. A medical doctor, he also studied Greek language and literature, political economics and business administration. He was regarded as one of the fathers of “natural hygiene” in Spain and a great scholar. He was also a professor and director of the School of Diplomatics.

On 12 June 1867 he became the first director of the National Archaeological Museum, and under his supervision the nascent team of specialists and other staff emerged. On the scientific side, he was assisted by professionals like Francisco Bermúdez de Sotomayor, who had been responsible for the coin cabinet at the National Library, and by colleagues from the School of Diplomatics such as José María Escudero de la Peña, the palaeography teacher, and Manuel Oliver y Hurtado, professor of ancient and medieval epigraphy and geography. The other members of the team of experts were Fernando Fulgosio, Mariano Lagasca, Luis Ortiz Zárate and José Joaquín Ezquerra del Bayo. A caretaker, two doormen, a night watchman, a head chief gardener and two assistants completed the workforce for whom Monlau drew up his Instrucciones y Reglas (Rules and Instructions) regarding their duties.

With the inauguration still a long way off (1871), the early months of Monlau’s short directorship were spent receiving the museum’s first collections and securing funds to cover the basic operational costs.

In January 1868 the ministry instructed the museum to draw up a catalogue of the artefacts received. Monlau started an inventory of the collection, but the task was ultimately completed by the next director, José Amador de los Ríos, after Monlau presented his resignation to take up the chair in Public Hygiene and Epidemiology at the Faculty of Medicine of the Central University. His resignation was reported in the Royal Decree of 4 February 1868, and he left his post on 10 February.