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Learning to Look at an Altarpiece. Urroz

         After a Walk, a New Idea

It is something that usually happens at Patrimonio para Jóvenes. And this time, it happens again. It was a nice June afternoon. It was the beginning of summer. We went to Urroz Villa, a little village not far away from Pamplona. It’s well known by its winter craft fair, its big square (one of the biggest in Navarra), the church and its important altarpiece. And of course, a great landscape.

Vista general de la plaza de Urroz

There, we met the “librero de Urroz”, not a normal bookseller. He works with old books and his house has a kind of magic atmosphere, as if its rooms and spaces have been imbued by the stories from his books. We spent there a couple of hours. Everybody was so excited with everything around.

So we decided to prepare a collaborative activity for October, far away October … Was it???

      Characters with Books at the Urroz Altarpiece

October arrived and here is our activity. At the house of the “Librero de Urroz” or Books with History (Libros con Historia) adults had an informal chat about art and books. A quiet atmosphere that nothing had to do with the color, hustle and bustle we had at the atrium with our paintings about the altarpiece.

First, children went inside the church and looked carefully at all the scenes and characters. It is not easy to understand and read and altarpiece. So, they need some help. How many people can you see? How many are holding books? How are they? If you don’t know, can you imagine or share your idea? What kind of book are these people reading or holding at their hands?

Personajes con libro en el retablo de Urroz

They also could look at the altarpiece with binoculars.

        Learning from Children’s Answers

In these activities, one of the goals is to listen to the people, in this case, to the children. We listen to them to help them fight the fear of making a fool of themselves. They need to feel comfortable while chatting, and to learn without any discomfort if any answer was wrong. Make them realize that heir point of view is always appreciated.


Thanks a lot to the “Librero de Urroz”, to the major of Urroz Villa, as well as the parish of La Asunción. Thanks to all the families who came with their children to join us.



sello-mec-v2-smDicastillo is a village located at the region of Navarra, not very well known but is well worth visiting. When arriving you can discover a stunning palace from the last years of the 19th century an the begining of the 20th. Its history and that of its owner the “condesa de la Vega del Pozo” has been studied by Blanca Sagasti. Her research is now in an interesting book : “ De la Casa familiar de los López de Dicastillo al Palacio de la Condesa de la Vega del Pozo “

Disc todos en la puerta

As a result of reading this book I kept in touch with Blanca . Then we visited the palace, today empty ( or almost) waiting for a new use. Nothing better tha reading the report by Reagan Hahn :

I knew we would experience something incredible from the minute the man pulled out a key to unlock the heavy gates. As they opened with a creak, the palacio stood before us in all of its architectural splendor. Beyond the building, tiny roses formed a blanket over the garden pagoda.

Dicastillo en el cenador

     Before the excursion…

  I had no idea that a palace was a building exclusively for leisure and that, “castle,” is a term reserved for residences designed for battle. Before the excursion I couldn’t have told you what it feels like to look out the window of a tower and see the mountains and fields of Navarra fill the horizon. Before I couldn’t, now I can. From the great, wide staircases, to the ornate fireplaces, every inch of the palacio drew you in.

Dicastillo comedor al contraluz

                  Beautiful in a tragic way !

Yet, to me, all the grandeur was beautiful in a tragic way. While the rooms were full of things, they lacked people. Only we, the privileged few, got to explore this grand home while the rest of the world lay ignorant to the treasures inside. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing this fantastic edifice, and I count myself blessed to have been given the opportunity to explore a piece of history. I only hope that others will come to appreciate the palacio so that once again its rooms will be filled with life.

Disc EScudo de palacio


Don’t tell me what you see, but what you feel

Today, we’re traveling to a city close to Navarra, Logroño,  (La Rioja ) notice, with ñ, a Spanish letter you don’t have in English and sounds like “nya”. Logroño is well worth the visit. In some streets you can enjoy the cute Museum of La Rioja, The Cathedral, and the cultural center, Amos Salvador, once a cigar factory. And more, in this area of the city you can try delicious “tapas” or “pinchos” with the wine for which this region and its wineries is famous all over the world.

Some time ago, people who work in the Educational department of The Art Institute of Chicago provided me with some very useful material: “Tips for Leading Discussions About Art” and with it, I prepared this activity at the Museum of La Rioja.

En la puerta del museo

After giving students time to loo, I asked about their feelings in front of a painting, not to describe what they see. We did this with two different Spanish paintings. “Divine Light”, an oil on canvas by Lorenzo Aguirre Sánchez. And “The Toilette” by Federico Godoy.

At this point I have to say is very difficult for young people to express themselves , they have a kind of fear of ridicule.

LUz Divina


Looking at “Divine Light”, the oldest in the group gave the first answer. “It gives me a sensation of sadness, of prayer, of loneliness, reflection…” they say. In the end everybody talked.

“Why do you have this feeling?”

“Because of the colour, the disposition of characters, the room itself.”

Some of them say this painting reminded them some paintings of Edward Hopper

Then we looked at Federico Godoy’s “The Toilette” a scene of beauty and joy inside a popular house.

Deatlle de una pintura

What some people said here is that they feel more peaceful because of the colours, and because the characters are inside their own houses, in their spaces and yards where they live everyday, not in hospitals, orphanages, or jails.

We also visited the medieval rooms where the restorer Teresa Calvo answered questions from the team about problems with wood sculpture. Some of the boys who were biology students asked about the problem of fungi and woodworms

En las salas


Then we had free time for watching videos in the areas they were most interested.

After that, we visited the “Dali Sueña los caprichos de Goya” exhibit, which means: “Dali’s Dreams About Whims of Goya” about great artists in Spain, with Goya as a precursor of contemporary art.

Amós Salvador

Here you have the link of this, though it is only available in Spanish.

It was about 13.00 a good time for tapas in Spain. We were all having so much fun that we forgot to take pictures of the team enjoying the food. But in any case here are some picture of the tapas. Remember Calle del Laurel and streets around it if you come to Logroño!



And to end the amazing day, we visited the old castle of Clavijo, even though there are only ruins, they are as incredible as the landscape you can see from the top.


This was a great excursion you can try if you come to La Rioja.

Welcome to Spain and thanks for following Patrimonio Para Jóvenes.


Communication with and from Museums

logo-mecnaIt was close Christmastime when I received an e -mail from The museum of Navarra, the one I’ve put here at the beginning of the post offering us the opportunity to visit The Annunciation to the Shepherds a Gothic painting transported from a Church in Olite, a village close to Pamplona, Navarra.

The proposal was interesting but in my opinion the mail itself was boring, without giving any hope of young people having fun. So I took account of the mail itself during our visit. Before talking about Gothic art we had a chat about communication with Museums.

Do you have any idea about this kind of information, these e-mails from the Museum of Navarra? Nobody knows….

How would you like the museum to keep in touch with you?

No idea… They would love some attention, but they don’t know how to go about getting it….

Have any of you visited any museums’ websites within the last month?

Probably not very likely.

Have you seen, for example the new website of the Prado Museum?

I doubt it.

Do any of you have an idea about any museum in the social networks? One girl might know a little something of the Jaca Museum perhaps… she won a prize some years ago and can remember something….

So, everybody has the feeling of lack of communication with museums and their collections, but no one can think about a proposal to the institutions… Take notice….

Museo de Navarra y TIC

After this little chat, we talked about the medieval mural paintings, the way in which they are brought from their original homes to museums… so at this point, we remembered our visit to Jaca and the Romanesque paintings of Bagues, to see the video, click here.

Compare, remember, explore, associate content and paintings, make a connection with the tour we did in past years…

MuseoNavarra-Ante pinturas de la capilla Virgen del Campanal PPJ-2

Then we talked about the painting we went to the museum to visit. Theme, technique, colors, drawings, characters, conservation and so on. Our group was very surprised thinking about how churches looked centuries ago with all these colours and paintings on their walls.

MuseoNavarra-Ante pinturas de Artaiz

The whole team had the delightful experience of enjoying a museum without speeding through it, without visiting everything or almost, resulting in hating art and body aches.

It is urgent that we find a way to engage the youth when talking about museums. This is especially important here in Spain, where the whole country is an example of history and art. I’ve written about it here more than once, check it the website Spain is culture

Perhaps in not very big museums and not big cities such as Madrid or Barcelona, we need some kind of fresh air, changes in the way we talk about the exhibitions and collections at the museums.

What about some idea from projects such as Museum Hack ? It is much more than a matter of money for exploring new ways; In my opinion, it has to do with attitude, imagination, and the concern and will to reach new audiences.

Captura de pantalla 2016-02-21 a la(s) 08.17.36

So we had a great day, discovering Gothic mural painting and chatting about communication with and from Museums.



A photo workshop at Pamplona Cathedral

logo-mecna“Stone, Wood and Precious Metal “ was the title of this workshop, focused on Gothic Art in the Cathedral. Some weeks ago, the Culture department of the Government of Navarra published a research monograph about the Gothic in this region. So here is our tribute and appreciation.

For the session I‘ve chosen some masterpieces with two criteria: one being the importance of the masterpiece itself and the other the grade of difficulty in taking the picture. (I had to keep in mind that none of the young people on the team had much photography experience).First we visited the tomb of Carlos III the Noble King and his wife, Leonor; the faces, the vestments, ornaments and the special tearful entourage on the bottom of the tomb. The session was conducted by Professor Juan Cañada, who explained the lighting of this place and how to deal with lights, shadows and colours.

Almudena ante sepulcro

After trying with that, we went to the altarpiece of St. Thomas, made of wood and with poly-chrome painting. Full frame, detail, and difficulties with perspective and brightness were some points explained here.

Fotografiando el retablo

We also shot small details and it was enchanting when each one of us discovered the elegance and preciosity of each character on the altarpiece. Individual faces, clothing, landscape and colours were discovered again for each camera with the unique point of view of each person. Here you have some of mine.

Detalle del retablo de Santo Tomás

Speaking of the cloister, I must say that the cloister of Pamplona’s Cathedral needs a post just for itself. Its importance in the History of Gothic of Art has not been taken for granted and can not be visited in a rush.
So we took pictures only in some parts. As a “Puerta del Amparo” a representation of the death of the Virgin Mary with apostles, angels… a tympanum full of colour and people was in some ways easy to be shot.

Todos ante la puerta del Amparo

In some ways… but not in my experience, I took a very bad one, so here you have a picture of this tympanum from Panoramio

Tímpano de la puerta del amparo

The next point was the Barbazana Chapel where one of the most interesting things is its vault . Here the problem had nothing to do with light but with distance . We also put attention on the corbels .

Bóveda cap barbazana


To finish this session we went into the Exhibition “Occidens” only to visit a small piece but great in terms of beauty: the stunning silversmith reliquary of Saint Sepulcher. A piece we suggested that the museum direction move from its place of exhibition. It deserved to be better seen by the visitors. Another place with different light would be much appreciated. Here you have the picture we took and a picture from a picture where you can appreciate the filigree on the hair of the angel.

Relicario del Sto Sepulcro

Cabeza de angel

If you come to the Cathedral of Pamplona walk, take your time and enjoy! We are waiting for you!


Heritage and oversight

  logo-mecnaSorrounding the city of Pamplona (Navarra, Spain), there is a superb landscape, it is easy to arrive just for a walk during the morning or afternoon, places for relaxing, doing physical exercise , take photos and learn about art and heritage as well.

This is what we did some days ago, with a beautiful temperature even for being the middle of November.

With students and young professionals from Mexico, Dominican Republic, Iran, and the cities of Burgos and Pamplona, we visited the small and cute rural churches of San Vicente of Larumbe, St Esteban of Eusa, and St Mary of Gazólaz. All of them have in common that they have an atrium. And more, are classified as “BIC” “Bien de interés cultural” the highest protection for heritage in Spain

Grupo en el pórtico de San Esteban, interior

Cultural Look through the Romanesque or Gotic ( in the case of St Vicente) windows at the landscape give a magic sensation, as if you are in the right location for a film, or as if you are transported to another time.

The visit to the three churches was focused not only on the history of Art but also on a reflection about restoration and about some difficulties we have in countries such as Spain, with a huge range of artistic heritage.

Is it possible to restore everything? How can we know when and why it is necessary? And what about after their restoration? What kind of actions, in terms of marketing or education program should be put into practice in order to not forget these places?

Fachada norte-depués de las obras

We appreciated the beauty of the atrium of St Vicente just restored, in a great contrast with the interior of the church damage on its walls because of humidity.

El pórtico y fachada sur-después de las obras

The quaint, magical, and touching interior of San Esteban… or the interesting designs and representations at St Mary of Gazólaz.The inversion in restoration –We also visited some weeks ago the medieval bridge of Aoiz, another village of Navarra) is very welcoming, but then if nothing more is done, it is a waste of time and money and the oversight is one of the most dangerous elements for historical patrimony

Puerta entreabierta vista desde el coro (1)

So it was a day full of activities: Alvaro who travelled from Burgos took nice pictures, all of us enjoyed the places, the landscape and even we came across a little donkey! An animal not very easy to find at nowadays.

Alvaro y el burro

In the end, with the team from Burgos we went to El Gaucho   with the most delicious pintxos in Pamplona. Cuisine is also an important part of cultural heritage!!!!

Los pinchos del Gaucho





If museums bore you, this blog is for you

If museums bore you, if you think that visiting the old part of a city is a pain, this is your place .

Have you had bad experiences? Have you put up with dull tour guides that spit out data that’s impossible to retain and plus, it doesn’t interest you at all?

You’ve probably never gone to a museum or a set of historical monuments of a city, but nor do you want to go .”Museums” sounds like a cemetery of works of art to you and you’re not interested in cemeteries of art. Here we’ll see how little by little many museums have changed the way of spreading their collections, created websites, and become meeting points and cultural dialogue, incorprtated new technology and connect with the public through social networks.
Two smaples already in this blog are places that are so unlike with collecctions so unique such as Diocesan Museum of Jaca in Aragón and Vivanco Museum of Wine culture . But there are so much more.There are young people, as well, with creativity and an innovative spirit that have got touristic initiatives in motion revolved around artistic-historic heritage of their villages and cities. We will invite them here to tell their experiences as  an important piece of information; in not few occassions have jobs positions been generated.