Those who want to visit Ca’n Prunera, have to know exactly where it is – or ask locals for directions. The location of Ca’n Prunera is much the same as with many places of interest in Mallorca: there is no signpost to help you find the museum, which opened in 2009 with big celebrations. But of course, everybody knows the Art Nouveau building in the town of Sóller.
“What is special, is that we have not changed anything. The house still has the same furniture, the same lamps, same kitchen, same beds, and the same display case,” says renowned Mallorcan publisher Pedro Serra, known art lover and the driving force behind the acquisition and renovation of the building.
Without this native Solleric, there would be no museum. Because he and his foundation “El Tren de l’Art” (“The art train”) ensured they not only maintained the house, but also filled it with modern art. Art lovers who visit here don’t just experience a journey through contemporary art, but also a journey through the era of Art Nouveau, which is alive inside the house. The atmosphere makes you tempted to wait for the host´s arrival and smoke a cigar with him in the library.
History of the museum
The history is briefly told. In 1998, a city councillor from Sóller suggested to Pedro Serra, the town’s most famous son, that he purchase the house. Its owner at the time, Sebastia Puig Magraner, preferred to sell it to a Mallorcan, thus ensuring that the property would be faithfully preserved.
The Magraner family had emigrated to France in the 19th century and earned a fortune there with the importing of citrus fruits from Sóller. “The history of Sóller is a story of the emigrants of the place,” says Pedro Serra. Without them, so the entrepreneur says, there would have been no riches. The Magraner clan decided to build Can Prunera in 1909 in the town centre in what is today known as Carrer de la Lluna.
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A childhood dream…
For the almost 82-year-old Serra a childhood dream came true with the purchase and restoration of the house. “It was always the nicest house in town,” he says. Not only that: he was able to combine the purchase of the house with his passion for art. “I inherited it from my paternal grandfather,” he says. He was personal physician to many Impressionists who came from Catalonia to Mallorca for painting, such as Joaquín Mir or Santiago Rossinyol. They painted on the north coast of the island. “On Sundays, they’d meet up in Sóller, where my grandfather was the doctor. Now and then they gave him a painting. I always saw new pictures when I visited my grandfather. ”
Serra’s involvement in Can Prunera has been rewarded by seeing how much art lovers appreciate the new museum. “In May, we had 700-800 visitors a week, which is very good.” He regrets nothing, even if the restoration brought many problems. The original cost estimate of €2 million for the conversion finally ended up costing double that, because engineers found that the ‘Vigas’, the roof structure, had been attacked by the white ant – a pest that forced Mallorcan Pepe Pardó’s workers to replace all ‘Vigas’. It made the restoration not only expensive but also delayed the completion by as much as two years. But it was worth it: “It was the most beautiful detail for the engineers of the state government after the work: there´s no Art Nouveau building in Spain rebuilt as accurately as Can Prunera. And just as it is.”
Serra, awarded the state government’s gold medal for his cultural engagement a few weeks ago, smiles when it comes to the question of funding. “I really was given every possible assistance, but regarding money I have not seen one euro.” A little dig at the town of Sóller, which mainly benefits from the museum.
Joan Miró and Mallorca
Part of the exhibition on the ground floor is dedicated to Joan Miró, one of Pedro Serra’s favourite painters. “He lived for 40 years on Mallorca and, although a native of Barcelona, he felt like a Mallorcan,” says the publisher. (In his office at the publishing house of Ultima Hora there are some of Miró’s works hanging on the walls.)
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In addition to the living room on Can Prunera’s ground floor, there´s a collection of antique wax dolls dating from the 19th century. However, foreign visitors here won’t find an explanatory plaque. All signs on the ground floor are also only in Catalan. This is supposed to be rectified soon. At least the exhibition catalogue will be available in German and English. “It´s currently being printed,” Pedro Serra assures me.
The explanations of the exhibition are already written in six languages (English, German, Spanish, Catalan, Italian, French) in the former kitchen in the basement. This initiative was a personal wish of Serra’s because of the importance he places on the work of Juli Ramis. “He is one of the most complete artists I know,” he says.
Works of art at Can Prunera
Part of Serra’s personal collection is situated on the second floor, directly under the roof´s renewed stucture. Works of Kandinsky, Picasso, Warhol can be seen here, alongside works from Barceló and star architect Santiago Calatrava. In a separate room there’s projection of the local Sóller artist Francesca Martí.
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For Serra the promotion of native artists is a matter of the heart. The island that’s been home to Miró and is to many other artists needed an animated museum culture: “A little more love for art would do well on the island. I still have a big goal: Giving back Palma’s Es Baluard Museum the importance it deserves.” Knowing Pedro Serra, this will surely come to pass in the not too distant future.
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Can Prunera Modern Museum
Carrer de sa Lluna, 86-90,
Tel: +34 971 638 973
Winter Hours: From 1st November to 28th February from 10.30 to 18.30.
Last admission 30 minutes before closing. Closed on Mondays.
Summer time: From 1 March to 30 October, from 10:30 am to 18:30. Open every day.
The museum closes on 1 January and 25 December.
On 24th and 31st December, Ca’n Prunera opens from 10:30 am to 14:00.
See also the abcMallorca guides
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