The Museum of Lleida: collateral damage from Article 155

Catalan MonitorNews Roundup

Photo: The Museum of Lleida, in the background, centre. To the right, the trucks having the art loaded into them, and the police cordon in the foreground.

December 11, 2017

By Àlex Milian

Article 155 has already materialized in a concrete fact: the transfer, by the Generalitat under direct Spanish control, of works of art from Sixena which were part of the collection of the Museum of Lleida. At four in the morning this Monday, December 11, troops from the Guardia Civil arrived at the art museum on Carrer Sant Crist, accompanied by a moving van,  to transfer, to Sixena, the 44 works of art in question (it will be 43 since one has been lost).

Between 200 and 500 people assembled in front of the Museum in an act of protest, but a police cord by the Mossos d’Esquadra prevented them from approaching the Guardia Civil operators whom carried out the transfer. At a quarter to nine, the Mossos pushed back the protesters and there were a few moments of tension when a man with symptoms of tachycardia had to be treated.

The works were transferred to the Royal Monastery of Santa Maria de Sixena (Monegres, Aragon), where 99 works that the Generalitat de Catalunya returned in 2016 from the MNAC are already being exhibited. The works of the Museum of Lleida, on the other hand, were protected by the Law of Heritage of Catalonia, which prohibited breaking up collections such as that which was formed by these works.

The Spanish Minister of Culture, Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, last week, served as Catalan Minister of Culture, by dint of the aforementioned article of the Constitution, and agreed to the sentence of Huesca Court Judge of Instruction Number 1, which demanded the return of these remaining 44 works, from the Museum of Lleida. Méndez de Vigo took his decision before the Provincial Court of Huesca ruled on an appeal which had been presented by the Generalitat – a ruling which arrived three days later, and was against the Generalitat – and despite an announcement by the Consortium of the Museum of Lleida saying they would present a Cassation Appeal to the Huesca Provincial Court.

The aforementioned Consortium, which is formed by the Generalitat, Diputació and Lleida City Council, has since presented this Cassation Appeal, according to the mayor of the city, Àngel Ros, the politician most criticized by the protesters of Lleida, who consider him to be jointly responsible for the support for Article 155, by the PSC (Catalan Socialist Party).

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