The developers of the Hermitage Museum in Barcelona are abandoning the project. The proposal to open a franchise of the famous St Petersburg museum in the Catalan capital is to become part of the city's list of failed projects after it was announced this morning that they have had enough of the barriers to the project constantly put up by the city council. As reported this morning by El País and confirmed by ElNacional.cat, the museum's developers will, from now on, dedicate all their efforts to the judicial front that they have open with Ada Colau's council, with the intention of obtaining compensation for the years that the project has been blockaded.
Thus, the Swiss-Luxembourg fund Varia, leader of the Hermitage Barcelona initiative, has definitively ruled out the project due to the difficulties it has encountered for years with Barcelona city council. The announcement also coincided with the holding of the January council session this Friday. After hoping for a change of heart from the city council regarding the installation of the Hermitage in Barcelona, the final decision of the developers brings to a close years of conflict with a the city that now definitively won't be hosting this new cultural asset, just months after the Hermitage announced a collaboration agreement with the Teatre del Liceu to jointly develop the site in the neighbourhood of Barceloneta.
Years of controversy
Although the controversy surrounding the creation of a branch of the Hermitage Museum in Barcelona has lasted for years, it has come to a climax in recent months, with a clear confrontation between the council and the developers, and the additional factor that Ada Colau's coalition partners in the city's government, the Catalan Socialists (PSC), kept up a position of publicly favouring the new museum, which was to occupy a vacant site in the port area. However, in October the mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, denied permission for the installation, which led to the opening of a lawsuit. Hermitage Barcelona took the city council to court because it believes that the refusal of the building permit, despite initial authorization by the Port of Barcelona, does not comply with the law.
The legal process remains to be resolved, but what is certain is that the promoters of the project are now trying to take the franchise elsewhere. In this regard, the interest of Spanish cities such as Malaga and Madrid to host a museum that, it seems, will never become a reality in Barcelona is publicly known. On the part of Málaga, a city governed by the Popular Party, the municipal government has held meetings with the developers and has already offered them different proposals for the project's location, although those responsible for the initiative have shown preference for the port. In any case: another project for the future that has got away from the city of Barcelona, while others are already preparing to make their offers.
"Time has proven us right"
Meanwhile, Barcelona city councillor responsible for planning, Janet Sanz, responded to the decision today by asserting that "time has proven us right". She said that there was no consensus in favour of the Hermitage project, and "nor did that franchise have any connections with Barcelona". By contrast, said the Barcelona en Comú councillor, the city government believed it had found a much better alternative with the recent decision by the Barcelona opera house, the Liceu - which had formed a partnership with the Hermitage project - to develop its own harbour-side cultural centre on a different site, that currently occupied by the Imax Cinema in Barcelona's Port Vell.
City Councillor Janet Sanz explains