Museo del Baile Flamenco in Seville
May 3, 2024

Fascinating museums preserving, protecting and promoting flamenco

By W2SFadmin

It doesn’t rain very often in Andalusia, but when it does, it rains cats and dogs. Great for filling up the local reservoirs… but what is there to do on a rainy afternoon in Málaga or Seville? Well, it’s a great time to visit one of those cities’ museums, and with more than 40 museums to choose from in Málaga alone, visitors and residents really are spoilt for choice.

The Where to See Flamenco team decided to find out more. We discovered flamenco museums with exciting exhibits and wonderful collections of memorabilia. A visit to these museums can even be rounded off with a thrilling flamenco performance – as several are also enchanting venues for flamenco shows.

First up, we visited MIMMA (Museo Interactivo de la Musica de Málaga). Not strictly speaking a flamenco museum, Málaga’s interactive music museum does contain flamenco instruments amongst its absorbing displays – and you can even try to play them yourself! The thoroughly modern layout of this museum, divided into various colour-coded areas, is fabulous. It has temporary exhibitions and large-scale instruments in “white” areas and permanent collections of valuable instruments in the “black” areas, which are sub-divided into geographical areas and instrument families. Here, you can use the interactive displays to play entrancing samples of music played on the very same historical instruments you see displayed behind glass cases. But in the “red” areas, various families of instruments (strings, percussion, etc…) are laid out for visitors to try their hand at with virtual teachers to explain how to play them! Here you can have a strum on a flamenco guitar or bang out a rhythm on a flamenco box drum! There’s even a creative lab section where you can have a shot at scientific music-related experiments. These “red” areas are an obvious hit with younger visitors, and we thought they were great fun too.

After viewing all the exhibits, we went down to the museum’s tablao on the ground floor to see a 45-minute afternoon show called Jaleo. A jaleo in flamenco means a “shout” or “yell”, that is, words of encouragement which are called out to the artists whilst they perform, such as ole, bravo or asi se canta (“that’s the way to sing”) inter-mingling with intricate handclapping. The brilliant show featured the Jaleo lineup of three, with a poised performance by Martin Cerdan on guitar, strong vocals by one of our favourite local singers Rosa Linero, and with Vanessa Cortez, dancing in a stunning long-tailed peacock blue floral dress and playing castanets. It all added up to an emotional and gripping performance. The numerous children in the audience were mesmerized and so were we!

The second stop on our museums tour was Museo de Arte Flamenco run by flamenco club Peña Juan Breva, a cultural association with a long history of more than 60 years celebrating and promoting flamenco in Málaga city. It is named after one of the most famous Málaga flamenco artists of all time, Juan Breva, and contains a superb collection of exhibits: guitars, costumes, combs, shoes and fans, phonographs and vinyl records. Not to mention colourful posters from historic local and regional flamenco festivals and informative wall panels recounting the history of flamenco in Málaga. This is a more challenging visit for English speakers, as all the displays are labelled in Spanish, but still a historic venue and a pleasure to visit. The basement of the building contains a traditional tablao where fabulous guest artist performances take place several times a week. One of Where to See Flamenco’s favourite flamenco venues in Málaga. We highly recommend its performances by top artists amidst a relaxed and authentic atmosphere.

Third on our list is an even more entrancing museum, Museo del Baile Flamenco in Seville, focussing on flamenco dance. Founded in 2006 by its artistic director international flamenco dance star Cristina Hoyos, this interactive museum includes stunning floor-to-ceiling audiovisual projections and illuminated information screens which show and explain various dance styles or palos, plus beautiful displays of costume and instruments, all inside a wonderful 18th century building. It holds no less than two tablaos, one located in the beautiful marble-pillared ground floor inner courtyard of the museum, and the second down in the barrel-vaulted basement whose walls contain stones of Roman origin. Sadly, the shows were fully booked on the day of our visit. No matter, the date is in our diary to return to Seville and see flamenco in this legendary setting, which is allegedly home to some disembodied spirits who wander eternally in the depths of the building…!

Other museums offering occasional flamenco gigs on their programmes are Museo Picasso Málaga and Museo Unicaja de Artes y Costumbres Populares in Málaga. Where to See Flamenco is looking forward to checking out their performances and including them in our regular round-up of events.