Iwan and Manuela Wirth, owners of mega-gallery Hauser & Wirth, have never been afraid to think outside of the white cube. And now, they’re adding a new venture to their ever-expanding empire: an art center on the Spanish island of Menorca.
After several months of negotiations, the local city council has approved the gallery’s plans to set up shop in a historic military hospital on Isla del Rey, a small enclave nestled within the Port of Mahón on the eastern coast of the island. The new art center, Hauser & Wirth Menorca, will include an exhibition hall, a space for educational programming, a public garden, and a restaurant. A program of changing exhibitions, from commissioned projects by roster artists to shows populated with museum loans, will be on view from April to October yearly. The new branch is set to open in 2020.
“Manuela and I have been visiting Menorca for several years and long ago fell in love with the island’s wild beauty, the hospitable nature of the people who live here and their tenacious efforts to protect the natural environment and cultural heritage of the island,” Mr. Wirth said in a statement. “The kindness and enthusiasm shown to us by the Menorcan community and local government when we first began discussing the idea for this project was overwhelming, and convinced us to go ahead. The Fundación Hospital de la Isla del Rey has worked tirelessly to restore the island and are a huge inspiration—we look forward to joining them as custodians of this precious land and working hand-in-hand to transform Isla del Rey into the cultural hub of Menorca.”
As part of the agreed-upon property lease—which, according to El País, cost $4.5 million—the gallery will oversee and fund the restoration of the 18th-century naval hospital. The lease will be in effect through 2032.
Wirth’s vision for the new outpost is modeled off of Hauser & Wirth Somerset, a multi-building gallery, restaurant, residency, and education program the dealers founded in 2014 on an old farm two hours outside of London. Similarly, the Menorca branch will work with the local community to restore the building while promoting arts education.
Paris-based architect Luis Laplace, who worked with the gallery on Somerset, will lead the renovation effort, while Mar Rescalvo, a Menorcan native who has spearheaded exhibitions and other cultural projects in the Balearic Islands, Barcelona, and Amsterdam, will serve as Hauser & Wirth Menorca’s inaugural director. Rescalvo has overseen the project’s development to this point and has already secured local partnerships with the Museu de Menorca, Escola d’Art de Menorca, The Fundació Menorquina de l’Opera, and the Institut of Menorquin Studies.
This is just the latest expansion for the gallery, which is recent years has established offices in Beijing and Shanghai and a luxury hotel in Scottland.
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