The Consulate of Bilbao
Itsasmuseum has opened a new area in the permanent exhibition dedicated to the Consulate of Bilbao, the institution that, for 300 years, was decisive in the Villa’s history and economic and commercial progress.
Located on the ground floor of the museum, it occupies more than 300 square meters. The incorporation of this area represents a qualitative leap. It completes a historical stage very present in Itsasmuseum and key to the development of Bilbao as a city and Biscay as a territory.
Among the pieces on display is a set of polychrome storage cabinets in wood and iron, created in 1761 by the master assembler from Bilbao, Joaquin de Echeverria, which formed the Consulate archive; the benches of the Audience Hall, built during the 17th century and attributed by some sources to the painter Luis Paret and Alcazar; and the chapel of the Consulate located in the church of St. Anton, present through the carving of Our Lady of Consolation and an altarpiece panel in gilded wood from the sixteenth century.
These historical and heritage items are complemented by two large paintings, the first of which is Corridor of columns of the Consulate, a work in pastels by Manuel Losada dating to 1920, which portrays the interior of the headquarters of the Consulate of Bilbao and features several of the objects on display.
The other painting is a Mural for the oil tanker Bilbao painted in 1962 by José Maria de Ucelay, which shows the flag of the Consulate and the House of Biscay in Bruges, the precursor of the Consulate of Bilbao.
There are also nine casetons or tabicas, rectangular chestnut wood tables bearing maritime trading scenes from the Arana Palace, and which contain one of the oldest representations conserved of the felucca.
Several models show how Bilbao was in the 16th century, the church of San Anton and the City Hall of Bilbao of the time, the House of Biscay in Bruges and the felucca, a visual and teaching aid that gives some visual context of the time.
The process of moving the selected pieces, objects and works of art from the Euskal Museoa, where they were on display in recent years, has been a difficult one. It involved people and companies in the restoration sector who worked rigorously and professionally. The pieces, mainly the cabinets of the Consulate Archive, are being conserved and restored on-site in public view, inviting visitors to the exhibition to learn about the exciting world of restoration.
The Consulate has a prominent position in the museum thanks to the collaboration of the Euskal Museoa, the Provincial Council of Biscay, the City Council of Bilbao, the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Navigation of Bilbao, the Port Authority, the Historical Archive of Biscay, the José Maria Arriola Library, the Bilbaina Society, Landa Ochandiano Architects and the Sancho the Wise Vital Fundazioa Foundation.