Nicoll to head Spanish museum

Valencia venue to open June 2009

VALENCIA, Spain — Margaret Nicoll, one of Spain’s best-known film and TV execs, has been tapped as director of Valencia’s MUAA, a pioneering museum of the moving image.

Now under construction, MUAA, which will open its doors June next year, has broken ground in more than a literal sense.

Spain is enjoying an explosion of culture industry mega-projects.

In the North, Asturias’ imposing Laboral City of Culture mixes film exhibitions and Machinima: film-making within real-time 3D virtual environments.

Murcia, in Spain’s South-East, has announced a City of Digital Contents, such as animation, for 2012.

Both projects have been financed by regional governments.

In contrast, MUAA is a private sector initiative, financed by the Alzira-based investors also backing a huge commercial, leisure and arts complex that houses MUAA in the town of Alzira, 25 miles from Valencia.

The complex includes a cinema multiplex, with a 3-D screen, but MUAA will be its true locomotive, said MUAA CEO Ricardo Torres.

Private investment “gives us independence. The priorities are different,” he added.

“MUAA’s an independent, new-generation ‘living’ museum,” said Nicoll.

The museum is designed to look like a studio set, boasting about 72,656 square feet of floor space and around 48,437 square feet for exhibitions.

MUAA will host exhibitions that connect readily with Spaniards and international tourists of little academic expertise, seeking to add some popular culture heft to weekends or holidays.

According to Torres, the local region attracts one million tourist during July and August. Alzira is eight miles from the coast.

Nicoll will oversee MUAA content. To date, 20 companies have shown willingness to support MUAA with materials or whole exhibitions, Torres said.

Among them are National Geographic, Spain’s genre specialists Filmax, broadcasters Telecinco and Antena 3, local pubcaster RTVV, Spain’s actors union and DreamWorks Animation character designers Grangel Studio.

MUAA is in talks with Frankfurt’s Deutches Film Museum to bring the Stanley Kubrick exhibition to Valencia.

As a commercial venture, MUAA is being promoted with a savvy that public institutions are only just discovering. And pitched at the whole of Central and Eastern Spain, plus abroad.

A marketing exec, Torres has tied down promotion deals with Spain’s ADIF, which runs its railway stations, for exhibitions at stations in Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. MUAA will also operate exhibition space at Madrid’s Barajas airport.

Renfe’s high-speed trains will stop at Alzira, and sport museum decor.

Nicoll said that beyond exhibitions, MUAA is planning film cycles, lectures, music events, a film and TV fest in schools, and a yearly program of training and educational courses: culture and fun in the sun.

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