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A Phantom

Images> Article, A Phantom Museum? Photomontages and drawings by Eduardo Teran.

A Phantom Museum? The Case-Study of The Museo de América as a Historical, Political and Architectural In-Between Typology


Which is the building that manifests the legacy of Spain in America? The Museo de América in Madrid emerges as a typology between a cultural institution and a response to numerous political, cultural, and historical factors. In this article, through the analysis of three scenarios, I present a study of the conditioning factors that support and shape the institution with the objective of identifying the Museo de América as an institution in transit, or as I call it here, a phantom – an exception in the museum community – that seeks its survival in a specific context. With the study of the collections, the research seeks to identify the relationship between America and Spain, and what implications the Spanish structure itself has had for the dispersion and collection of pre-Columbian art. The political implications are essential to understand the genesis of the institution. Franco’s regime operated the Museo de América as an infrastructure at the service of an identity process, a transcendental process to understand the articulation of the Museo de América around a strong political past and how it conditions its future projection.


The building responds with its architecture to the questions posed above, seeking its own language according to its time and processing a profound and continuous reinterpretation of past elements, conceiving the museum as a temporal journey. Can we affirm that we have found an institution in between different dimensions? What is a phantom museum? These questions seek to be answered on a journey through the relationship between Spain and its cultural legacy in America in the footprint of the Museo de América.


Eduardo Cilleruelo Terán

Home Institution:

Department of History and Visual Sciences, Cornell University // College of Architecture, Art and Planning, Cornell University. 


Conference Institution:

Architecture Media Politics Society (AMPS) Prague Summer 2023 Conference

Panel discussion with:

Tatjana Crossley

Emilio Remelhe


Summer 2023

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