Taking office, in February 2008, wasn´t at all easy for this lady. The new director of Mallorca´s most important public museum faced hard criticism for not being selected through an international advertisement. Some gallery-owners were indignant over Cristina Ros´s “lack of necessary skills”. She was ”lacking experience” in cultural management, art columnists commented. Truly Cristina Ros never headed a museum before, but undoubtedly she´s an art expert. For years she had been writing for Mallorcan daily “Ultima Hora” as art and reviews critic. “Ultima Hora” is the main newspaper of big Mallorcan publishers Grupo Serra, whose director Pedro Serra is a founder and member of the board of management of Es Baluard.
Six months after the change of power, the 43-year-old Mallorcan woman is still aware of these skirmishes: “Many people gave their opinion with envy and lack of information. I only want to be judged by my work done.” And the results are not too bad. The working atmosphere at Es Baluard has calmed down. Cristina was able to improve the collaboration with the island´s gallery owners and to apply a new pattern of communication.
Native Cristina Ros benefits from her numerous connections gained through her job as exhibition curator and editor. Meeting her personally one becomes convinced that she´s an amazing personality. Cristina is an unpretentious, charming woman with an extremely friendly manner. Wearing sunglasses she looks very cool. She could be John Lennon´s sister. During the working day Cristina sometimes has a break outside on the terrace, where she enjoys the view across the bay with a cup of coffee and a cigarette. “Smoking is banned inside”, she remarks with a smile.
Asked about the roundly-shaped object behind the Old Town Wall she leaves no doubt about the artistic interpretation: “Sure, these are tits.”
On the whole, private exhibitors want to maintain anonymity. One remarkable name though is Pilar Citoler, the president of patronage of Reina Sofía museum in Madrid. Citoler owns a summer residence in Mallorca – and here Cristina knotted the art-tie for her museum. Another named individual is Fernando Meana, from whom Es Baluard obtained two works on loan. He was awarded in 2007 for his collection. Generally, the administration board of Es Baluard tries to focus on Mallorcan citizens and artists. “Creating a local identity for our institution is vital”, Cristina explains.
Es Baluard not only has artworks on loan, there´s also a budget to buy: 800,000 euros can be spent to enrich the museum in 2008. Cristina: “That doesn´t mean that I can throw money down the drain. Many objects have been bought in the last few years in instalments. Some payments are not completed yet. Thus 500,000 euros of the year´s budget are not at our disposal.“ A committee decides what will be bought. The first criteria is “quality, followed by the artist´s origin”, Cristina Ros remarks.
She wants Es Baluard to be a “museum for the art of the Balearic islands” as she quoted at her inauguration in February. The core of artists don´t have to be mainly native Mallorcans or Menorcans but their “place of activity and their works should connect directly with the Balearics”. All the galleries run by international owners on Mallorca are included in the Es Baluard concept.
The public museum Es Baluard was developed with taxpayers´ money amounting to 17,5 million euros and inaugurated by the Spanish King Juan Carlos in 2004. The annual budget for 2008 is 3,2M euros – including the 800,000 destined for purchases. The sum is provided in equal shares by the Mallorcan counsel (Consell), the Balearic government (Govern) and Palma´s town hall (Cort). The institution serves public interest but is managed by a private foundation. Pedro Serra acts as chairman. “The budget we have is precisely sufficient”, says Cristina Ros. Fixed costs as wages, maintenance, repairs, workshops, art leasing and acquisition must be covered.
The new director´s vision is not to isolate the museum as a sophisticated closed corporation, where average citizens don´t dare to enter: “I want the museum to be an open, pleasant, normal place. Café, restaurant and terrace add to its convenience.” She doesn´t want to look too far ahead, though: “My office is temporary. After two years the administration board will decide whether to extend my contract or not.”
During these two, four or more years under her aegis a “museum for the public” will emerge. At short notice there´s a highlight on schedule: Es Baluard has a leading role in “Nit de l´art”, the art night of Palma´s museums on September, 18. Cristina Ros has engaged the members of small Mallorcan circus “Bover” to entertain the visitors.
The thrill for herself is to combine vocation and private life. A lot of travelling is part of the game, for representation and inspiration. Recently, Cristina has visited the Basque capital Vitoria many times in order to expand the collaboration with “Artium” museum. Exemplary museums are Málaga´s “CAC” and León´s “Musac” in her opinion.
She enjoys mingling with the top players of the international art scene, but above all she prefers to spend every free minute in Mallorca. The mother of an 18-year-old son is an early bird and often gets up between 5 and 6 a.m. She was born in Palma, but her favourite place is a house in the countryside: “I find tranquillity there, spending my time looking after plants and picking fruit from trees. My two dogs and my donkey must also be looked after.”