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Last Updated: Monday, 27 October, 2003, 16:25 GMT
Picasso's Malaga museum realised
Pablo Picasso
Picasso died in France in 1973
Celebrated artist Pablo Picasso's dream of opening a gallery in his home city of Malaga has been realised with the inauguration of a dedicated museum.

The King and Queen of Spain opened the Museu Picasso on Monday.

The museum, housed in a former palace, has been founded in collaboration with the artist's family, who have donated many works going on display.

Picasso himself had planned to open a gallery in Malaga before his death in exile in France in 1973.

Picasso was born in Malaga, in southern Spain, in 1881, but left in 1901 before settling in Paris in 1904.

He vowed not to return to Spain while General Franco was in power. He never went back because he passed away two years before Franco died.

Private collection

 King Juan Carlos, Queen Sofia and Christine Ruiz Picasso
King Juan Carlos (l) and Queen Sofia (c) met with Christine Ruiz Picasso (r)

Because he lived until the age of 92, there is a vast Picasso archive of work including paintings, drawings, sculptures and ceramics.

Some of the pieces going into the Museu Picasso have already been on display in the Picasso Museum in Madrid, but many have come from the private collections of his family.

His daughter-in-law Christine Ruiz-Picasso has contributed 133 masterpieces, including 14 oil paintings, while her son Bernard, Picasso's grandson, has offered 22 pieces.

Cultural tourists

This is a very important day for my family and for Malaga," Bernard Ruiz-Picasso told a local radio station.

According to Ms Ruiz Picasso, her late husband Paul, had travelled back to Spain in the 1950s to try and kick start the project but was prevented from doing so because of General Franco's view of Picasso as a "degenerate artist".

A rough estimate from auction house Sotheby's has put the value of the exhibits at euros 176m (122m).

The museum has been built inside the Palacio de los Condes de Buenavista in the historic centre of the city, which was originally completed between 1516 and 1542.

Picasso had himself identified the palace as a possible site for the project in 1953, but had been frustrated by politics.

The local government of the region has been an integral part of the founding of the museum, and hopes its opening will attract tourists interested in both the culture and the Mediterranean climate.

The BBC's James Coomarasamy
"The Picasso family say it is not a commercial venture"

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