Art from Banks


by Julie Espinosa

Banks in Spain actively promote the arts and this is something you can take advantage of. Perhaps in an effort to improve their image as mean and filthy rich, Spanish banks work actively on social responsibility — from constructing old folks’ centers to promoting energy conservation or other social causes.

This obra social and obra cultural (social and cultural work) extends to restoration of old buildings and sponsorship of temporary art exhibits–often publicly showcasing art from the bank’s permanent collection.

Whether banks should have these considerable collections–thousands of artistic works or what some call the people’s cultural heritage–is another question.

During my time in Spain, I have seen really great exhibits of Chagall, Latin American art, and retablos, all made possible by banks, and all for free.

Check listings of art exhibits from banks and other institutions in the weekly publication la Guía del Ocio (1€ at newsstands) under “Exposiciones” or at their site here. Also, the following banks have a strong presence in Madrid and permanent exhibit spaces:

See map below for the BBVA and Casa Encendida:

View Larger Map


Comment from marina
Date: November 19, 2007, 3:34 pm

Julie, great information. Please, let me add a couple more Banks to your list:

-I have a friend that works for the “Santander Central Hispano Foundation”. Unfortunately they recently moved their Exhibition Centre to the outskirts of the city – to Ciudad del Santander in Boadilla del Monte – making the trip there more difficult, specially for the tourists. But it is useful to know that sometimes they also promote temporary exhibitions in other exhibition centres in Madrid. Their site is:,,10100_1_55,00.html

- “Juan March Foundation”, much more centra,l and also very well known for the conferences and concerts, as well as the art.

Comment from Julie E.
Date: November 19, 2007, 11:10 pm

Oh yes! I love the Juan March Foundation, having enjoyed a wide variety of artistic events from them. I shall have to seek out the Santander space. Thanks for the heads up.