The Restoration of the Inmate Processing Area and the Museum

The space used for the Leonora Carrington Muse- um belongs to an area of the Centro de las Artes that had remained intact since the prison was vacated. That part of the prison was divided in two sections, one for women with children and the other for in- mates, where they remained awaiting trial.

 

The cell block complex, built on an area of approximately 2,500 square meters, was finished in 1905, as stated on the plaque found in the south block. This section, separated from the general cell block area, was close to the entrance and old courts.

In the original reuse project carried out by architect Alejandro Sánchez’s firm for the Ceart, this area was reserved to build living quarters to house visiting students, artists and researchers. However this project could not be carried out due to budget restrictions, so the section was left intact. 

 

On his first visit, Dr. Pablo Weizs Carrington expressed his admiration for the Ceart. When he found out that this area had been inhabited by women, he felt that this gave it a symbolic value as the sculptures had been created by a woman, his mother. On that very moment it was determined to be the perfect area for the museum.

The cell blocks were restored, consolidated and redistributed in order to exhibit Leonora Carrington’s sculptures and graphic works with the proper lighting and museography. Some cells were merged by tearing down adjoining walls to create more spacious halls. The blocks on the second floor were connected with a walkway that leaves an oval–shaped open space in the center that allows natural light in the monumental sculpture. It thus referenced the origin, the egg, “the ovum”, a form that Leonora cites in her art and written work, such as The Oval Lady.

In addition to permanent exhibits, the museum was conceived to receive temporary exhibition. It also offers courses, workshops and seminars associated with art and surrealism. It also serves as a center for research of the artist’s work and of art in general.

Each hall has a different theme. These patios were released from the additions (canteen and restrooms) and a monumental sculpture was placed in each one. The main, central patio, designated as the Patio of the Cranes, it the hub of the entire complex. The monumental sculpture The Ship of Cranes is the visual finish of the entrance and all the halls. The oval walkway that lets in the sunlight looks like a sur- realist object with the shade creeps along the ground as the sun follows its orbit. This oval shape is repeat- ed in the sculptures base and in the water mirror that reflects this magnificent sculpture. This brings life to the ship and its crew members —the cranes—.

The northeast side patio has the cafeteria, in- stalled in a small construction where the inmates met their attorneys. In this space, integrated with the wooded area, a pergola and outdoor tables were installed along with the sculpture Unknow. You can see the monumental sculpture in the central patio from there, inviting the visitor in to the Museum.

There is a ramp in the northwestern patio that connects to the second floor halls, joined by the oval walkway, with a monumental sculpture in the center. This ramp is joined to the stone walls and fly wall, supported by brackets. The Hug, a sculpture located in this patio welcomes the visitors and lends its name to the patio.

The southwest patio, known as the Tower Patio, has a watch tower in one of the old wall’s corners. It has a helical stairway, formed with stone steps. There are guided tours to the tower for visitors. The Rooster sculpture was placed in this patio to set off the entrance.

The permanent exhibition halls encompass the production of sculptures. This hall is dedicated to the fantastical beings and animals created by the artist. On the second floor there is a hall dedicated to the collection Treasures of the Xilitla Collection comprised of sculptures made with precious materials, such as silver, gold, and gems, characteristic of the works by Tane and Sacal.

This museum is photogenic in the day as well as at night and it holds a mystery that only the vis- itors can detect with their gaze.

The museum was inaugurated on the evening of March 22, 2018.

The new home for Leonora, the Stone Garden, as the museum has just been called, starts to fill this home for Leonora with magic. As a former place of repression and chastisement, it came to be a place for art and freedom.

Villar Rubio, Jesús, “ The Penitentiary, the Art Center and the Leonora Carrington Museum”,

Bronze and stone dreams, Leonora Carrington Museum San Luis Potosí,

Secretaría de Cultura: San Luis Potosí,  2020. pp.65-66

 

 

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