Universes in Universe

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Interview with María Mercedes González

Director of the Medellin Museum of Modern Art

By Pat Binder & Gerhard Haupt

Haupt & Binder: What characterizes MAMM and differentiates it from other art institutions in the city and in Colombia, for the local public and the visitors from abroad?

María Mercedes González: Since its foundation, MAMM has been a museum aware of its context, as it has worked towards the development of the town that houses it, in keeping with its missionary function. Iconic events to the Latin American avant-gardes have taken place at MAMM, such as the First Colloquium and Non-Objectual Art Exhibition in 1981, and essential spaces for national artists have been promoted, such as the Arturo y Rebeca Rabinovich art salons between 1981 and 2003. MAMM is a contemporary cultural center that promotes different artistic manifestations, such as music, cinema, architecture and design, and spreads its action beyond its walls in other cultural spaces in town.

H & B: Which are the most prominent works of the collection? Which is the museum’s acquisition policy, or in which direction does it intend to enlarge its collection?

MMG: Although the Museum has very important works of Colombian art from the second half of the 20th century in its patrimony, the most prominent in its collection are 223 works by the Antioquean artist Débora Arango, which in 2004 were declared National Cultural Heritage. Also, MAMM has works by Latin American artists such as Ana Mendieta, Carlos Cruz-Díez and Carlos Garaicoa, and works by Colombian artists such as Beatriz González, Álvaro Barrios and Juan Camilo Uribe, among others.

As far as acquisition policies and the enlargement of the collection are concerned, MAMM seeks to close the gap in its collection of Colombian art from the second half of the 20th century, and acquire contemporary pieces produced exclusively for the Museum’s own exhibitions. Also, the Museum wants to look deeply into its collection through research processes that generate memory and history and connect it to the world in different ways.


H & B: We’ve read that one of your challenges is to encourage the process of internationalization of the museum. Could you please explain and exemplify this?

MMG: The internationalization means the global projection of the Museum and involves enlarging our network of friends, allies, sponsors and institutions to create new opportunities, facilitate exchanges and support and disseminate the work of the Museum. For example, joint exhibitions of artists from our collection with other museums, like the exhibition of Débora Arango that was held at the MOLAA in Long Beach, California, and in the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2012 and 2013 in the US.


H & B: What is the interaction of MAMM with Colombian artists of the new generations?

The interaction with Colombian artists of the new generations has been vital for MAMM. Between 1981 and 2003, one of the most important programs of the museum was the Arturo and Rebeca Rabinovich Salon which contributed to the discovery, encouragement and training of artists under 30 years of age in the country. In more recent years, the Museum has promoted exhibition spaces destined to the younger creators, such as the call to intervene the main entrance door of the Museum, the special projects hall, the A cielo abierto hall, and the Albo Program at the Music Hall of State-Owned Companies of Medellin.


H & B: In what stage are the plans of expansion of MAMM?

MMG: In the last year, the Museum has made efforts to find the necessary resources to start the works. At the moment, the project has the support of the City Council of Medellin, companies and foundations that are convinced of the importance of the city having more spaces of knowledge and enjoyment. The construction works will start in the second semester of 2013 and will take around two years to complete.


H & B: What is the urban development expected around MAMM in Ciudad del Río?

MMG: In the coming years, Ciudad del Río will be an important cultural hub in the south of Medellin. Besides the space of the Museum, three sister cultural institutions will also have a place: the Philharmonic Orchestra of Medellin, the Folkloric Ballet of Antioquia, and Cantoalegre. It’s also expected the construction of a Unidad de Vida Articulada (UVA) (Unity of Articulated Life), a project of the City Council of Medellin that intends to integrate sports, recreation and culture for the development of community activities and social initiatives.


Maria Mercedes González
M.A (Master of Arts) in Media Studies at the The New School in New York, specialized in Cultural Studies, and graduated in political sciences from the Universidad Javeriana. Worked as communication and cultural attaché at the Colombian Embassy in Argentina between 2004 and 2008. From 2008 to 2010, she was Consultant for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Since October 2012, Maria Mercedes González is the General Director of the Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellín.


Pat Binder & Gerhard Haupt

Publishers of Universes in Universe - Worlds of Art. Based in Berlin, Germany.

(Translation from English. Marina Torres)
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