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The sixteenth-century Zabalaga farm house. Photo: Mikel Chillida.

Eduardo Chillida’s Museum and Sculpture Park to Reopen in Spain

Chillida Leku, the private outdoor museum and sculpture park dedicated to the Spanish sculptor Eduardo Chillida, will reopen to the public on April 17, eight years after it partially closed due to financial struggles. The institution has been accessible by appointment only since January 2011. 

Located in Basque Country, on the outskirts of Hernani near San Sebastián in Spain, the site comprises a sixteenth-century farmhouse that was converted into an exhibition space and nearly thirty acres of land, on which around forty of the artist’s sculptures are installed.

Chillida and his wife, Pilar Belzunce, bought the property in 2000 and worked closely with the Basque architect Joaquín Montero to create the museum and a place for his work to be displayed—in the Basque language Leku translates to “place.”

“There are very few places in our country that represent the love of art better than this museum,” Spain’s minister of culture, José Guirao, said. “Showing art in the best light and the liaison between art and nature was Eduardo Chillida’s deepest wish. This reopening is excellent news for the Chillida family, the Basque people, Spain and for everybody around the world.”

Lotura XXXII (Union XXXII), 1998, at Chillida Leku. Photo: Iñigo Santiago.

Iñigo Urkullu, the Lehendakari of the Basque government since 2012 (the Basque president), added: “The museum reopens its doors to us to contemplate, explore, and experience the work of Eduardo Chillida, to investigate, contextualize, and spread his legacy.”

The restoration project and reopening of the museum and park were backed by Hauser & Wirth, which announced in November 2017 that it had taken on the representation of the artist’s estate. The renovation is being carried out by the Paris-based Argentinean architect Luis Laplace in close collaboration with local architect Jon Essery Chillida, a grandson of the sculptor. The Dutch landscape architect Piet Oudolf, who is known for designing the gardens along New York’s High Line, will also introduce “subtle new landscaping elements” into the grounds.

“We are absolutely excited to enter this new era for Chillida Leku,” Luis Chillida, the artist’s son, said on behalf of the Estate of Eduardo Chillida. “It is inspiring for us to return the museum to full operation and certainly our parents would be delighted. This reopening has generated a lot of expectation and without a doubt there’s an increasing interest in the work of Chillida that we anticipate will continue to grow in the future.”

Mireia Massagué, the former head of the Gaudi Exhibition Center in Barcelona, was appointed director of Chillida Leku in October 2018. Kicking off its revamped program is the exhibition “Eduardo Chillida,” which will feature works spanning Chillida’s career, dating from the late 1940s to 2000. Curated by the sculptor’s son Ignacio Chillida, the survey will provide insight into the artist’s creative development, his use of materials, and the evolution of his ideas throughout his lifetime.

The show will include “Gravitaciones,” a series of sculptures made from paper that highlight negative space, and “Lurras,” a body of work created with chamotte clay, as well as a presentation dedicated to the artist’s public sculptures, which can be found in over forty cities around the world. 

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