At Large  August 7, 2023  Rebecca Schiffman

Picasso Museum Workers Set to Strike, Delaying Celebration

Source: MPM Workers Twitter

Workers stood outside the Picasso Museum Málaga in May, wearing masks of faces copied from Picasso’s works. 

This year’s Celebrating Picasso 1973-2023, the international initiative to honor the life and art of Pablo Picasso, might have to count Museo Picasso Málaga out of the festivities this September, as workers are organizing a strike for fare wages and working conditions after nine months of fighting. 

The workers strike is scheduled to run from September 18 through the 22nd, and the workers committee threatened it could be longer if they cannot come to an agreement. The strike will likely delay the opening of the museum’s exhibition, The Echo of Picasso, a key show in the celebration that is set to open the first week in October. 

Museo Picasso Málaga is a major institution not only for this initiative but for Picasso’s legacy. Picasso was born in Málaga, an Andalusian port city along the southern coast of Spain, in 1881. He always wanted his work to have a place in the city. During his lifetime the plan fell apart, but in the 1990s, Christine Ruiz-Picasso worked with the city and its residents to create the museum. This year the museum, which is among the most visited in Spain, was supposed to be celebrating its twentieth anniversary.

Wikimedia Commons

Pablo Picasso, 1904, Paris. Photograph: Ricard Canals i Llambí.

Instead, it is dealing with strikes from workers who claim the wages and working conditions are unequal to other Spanish museums. The workers created a committee last fall, and since then have been asking for higher wages, flexible working hours, better work-life balance, and a sense of belonging to the institution. They also surveyed ten other museums and found that their wages in comparison were far lower. 

“The wages and working conditions at Museo Picasso Málaga were far lower than at the other organisations," a representative of the workers’ committee told The Art Newspaper. "We are seeking a fair labor agreement, with wage, work and social conditions in line with those of workers at other museums.”

Wikimedia Commons

Pablo Picasso, 'Massacre in Korea,' 1951. Musée Picasso, Paris.

This is not the first time the workers’ committee at the Málaga museum have spoke up for what they want. When they organized the committee, they shared their findings in negotiations with the museum, but those didn’t get anywhere. In May they held a three-hour strike and in June they staged two strikes. The week-long strike was the result of previous unproductive negotiations, and the committee hopes that given the special timing of the strike, scheduled right before the Picasso celebration exhibition, and the renewed press around it, the museum will scramble to come to an agreement.

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