The tobacco industry has provided us with a number of historic buildings which have proved remarkably adaptable to other modern uses. London has the 1920’s Art Deco Carreras Cigarette Factory, the entrance guarded with the famous black cats, and now converted into offices; Seville has the Real Fábrica de Tabacos (Royal Tobacco Factory), an exuberant classical stone building opened in 1758, which at the time was the second-largest building in Spain and is now occupied by the University of Seville, and Malaga has the stunning Fabrica de Tabacos (Tobacco Factory), also constructed in the 1920’s also in a blend of Spanish and Art Deco styles. This extensive complex of buildings, not far from the city centre, has been refurbished by the Malaga City Government at a cost of around 25 million euros as a museum and cultural centre, with one of the first major museums being the new Automobile Museum, housing items from the Joao Magalhaes collection of vintage cars, one of Europe’s most important collections recording the development of motor vehicles during the 20th and 21st centuries.
The museum occupies 6000 sq m of the factory buildings, which provide flexible open and high spaces with a good amount of daylight from the perimeter windows, complimented by a number of internal spaces where more sensitive materials can be displayed.
The museum has cleverly focussed on the fashion and art of motoring, as well as the technology, and thus appeals to both car and fashion enthusiasts. The vintage cars are complimented by fashion displays relevant to the vehicles and includes a collection of 300 hats from the days when these were fashionable and extravagant, from the great fashion houses of Europe,
On the artistic side, the museum includes cars customised by the French-Ukraine artist Sonia Delaunay, painted for John Lennon of the Beatles and a black Rolls-Royce decorated with Swarovski crystals. Sonia Delaunay painted cars in bold, colourful designs inspired by cubism for BMW, Renault and Bugatti.
The Collection is also bang up to date including the 2009 “Space Ship”, identical to the 2007 “Solar World One” which won the prize as the most beautiful solar car in the world in Australia and “The Alien” specially commissioned by the Automobile Museum in 2010 with equipment that decomposes and converts water into electrical energy to charge the car’s batteries.
This is an imaginative reuse of this historic complex of buildings and adds to the cultural and tourist economy of Malaga with this multi-faceted automobile museum..