ES BALUARD ORIGINS

Es Baluard Museu d'Art Modern i Contemporani de Palma is located within the perimeter of the Sant Pere bastion, part of the Renaissance wall that surrounded the city of Palma until the beginning of the 20th Century.


The Sant Pere Bastion
 
The defensive bastion was built in the last quarter of the 16th century. The ancient mediaeval walls were strengthened with new structures under the supervision of the Italian engineer Giacomo Palearo Fratí n. His plans were in keeping with the new defensive needs of the period and created an area protected by bastions linked by stretches of wall. The Sant Pere Bastion is particularly interesting for its considerable and strategic position; it was even home to one of the most prestigious artillery schools in Europe.

Various alterations have been made to the Sant Pere Bastion over the centuries. In 1646, under the mandate of Vicenç Mut (appointed engineer and sergeant major of the fortification in 1638), the height of the Santa Catalina Bastion was modified to bring it into line with the Moranta and El Sitjar bastions and link them via the wall. It took on its present-day appearance during the 18th century.

In 1952, after more than three hundred years of service, the Sant Pere Bastion finally relinquished it military function. Some years later, it passed into private hands. The new owners had plans to redevelop the whole area and in 1963 they tried to blow up the wall with strategically placed slaked lime bombs, with which they managed to demolish a large part of the western curtain wall of the bastion. The citizens of Palma did not remain impassive in the face of this destruction and their reaction accelerated the declaration of the bastion as an historical-artistic monument, with the planning of its immediate reconstruction in 1965.

After this incident the land was classified for public use and expropriated at the end of 1980s. The bastion was abandoned and fell into a state of disrepair until 1997 when the land was ceded to Palma City Council to build Es Baluard Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Palma. The centre was opened on 30 January 2004.


The Aljub

This fresh water reservoir was completed in the 1640s. It has a classical rectangular ground plan of 353 square metres, a lowered barrel-vault roof and openings for ventilation. Following its restoration we can see the different building techniques applied to its walls, one of which is the very ancient fish bone method. 

It supplied fresh water to the whole Puig de Sant Pere quarter, as well as to the ships that docked in the harbour. The water came from the La Vila spring near Esporles, entered the city through the Santa Margalida gate and was channelled to the reservoir through a conduit-aqueduct. 

After the bastion had fallen into disuse it became a dump for animal manure. Nevertheless, when the museum was built, this marvellous area was rediscovered and it was decided to restore it and to add it to the museum project. 

Since its inauguration, it has multiple uses: it is offered to international contemporary artists, interdisciplinary activities or multi-use space that can be hired due to its volume and amazing acoustic quality.

The new building is part of the old Renaissance bastion. The 21st Century and the 16th Century buildings coexist harmonically.

The museum building is defined by simple, clean lines and shows great respect for the historical heritage that surrounds it, fitting in perfectly with the profile of the Renaissance bastion. The dialogue between the contemporary architecture of the new building and the ancient walls is present and constant, and you are aware of it as you walk through the different areas of the museum. The aim of the designers was to integrate a modern building into the historical heritage of the walls, but at the same time clearly differentiating it. For this reason it has been built with materials such as concrete and glass, making it easy to distinguish between the two types of construction.    

The building was designed by Lluís García-Ruiz, Jaume García-Ruiz, Vicente Tomás and Angel Sánchez Cantalejo and covers a total area of 5,027 square metres, of which 2,500 are devoted to exhibition space. It is divided into three floors that relate to the exterior and the ancient walls and are interconnected by ramps, skylights and large interior balconies, with the idea of creating an interior street.   

The exterior areas are conceived as exhibition spaces and places to walk and follow the perimeter of the walls. The 17th century reservoir is also an exhibition area and is used for different events in the museum’s programme. 

The museum's programme and use (document in Spanish)

Download the Foundation statutes (document in Spanish)


Es Baluard directors

Since 2004, these have been the Es Baluard directors:
  • Teresa Pérez-Jofre Santesmases (January 2003 - February 2004)
  • Marie-Claire Uberquoi Lebrun (May 2004 - February 2008)
  • Cristina Ros Salvà (February 2008 - February 2012)
  • Nekane Aramburu (March 2013 - currently)