BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors

Sandra Guimarães

Director of Museum of Contemporary Art Helga de Alvear

Photo of Sandra Guimarães, director of Museum of Contemporary Art Helga de Alvear. Photo: Estrella Jover
Photo of Sandra Guimarães, director of Museum of Contemporary Art Helga de Alvear. Photo: Estrella Jover

Tell us a little bit about your history.

I am an Art Historian specialized in modern and contemporary art. My career in the visual arts spans around 25 years and includes positions such as Artistic Director at Bombas Gens Center d'Art, (Valencia, Spain), curator at Serralves Museum (Porto, Portugal), as well as, founding Director of Programs at Remai Modern (Saskatoon, Canada).

I have always been driven by a deep curiosity about the world and the same happens with art. Investigating and working with art and artists is where I want to be.

Exhibition view – ‘Power Tools’ (2007) Thomas Hirschhorn at Museum of Contemporary Art Helga de Alvear. Photo: Joaquín Cortés
Exhibition view – ‘Power Tools’ (2007) Thomas Hirschhorn at Museum of Contemporary Art Helga de Alvear. Photo: Joaquín Cortés
Exhibition view - ‘Echo Activity’ (2017) Olafur Eliasson at Museum of Contemporary Art Helga de Alvear. Photo: Joaquín Cortés
Exhibition view - ‘Echo Activity’ (2017) Olafur Eliasson at Museum of Contemporary Art Helga de Alvear. Photo: Joaquín Cortés

What makes the Helga de Alvear Museum unique for you?

The Museum is a unique example of public-private collaboration, an example of generosity and commitment, of collective enrichment and community development, of passion and tenacity. Now, due to the great generosity of Helga de Alvear, the citizens of Cáceres are owners of one of the most unique and demanding collection of contemporary art in Europe. Furthermore, it is not a closed collection, but a living one, like the Museum itself, whose flexible and porous architecture makes everything possible.

What are your visions for the future regarding the museum and art collections in general?

Today it is clear to me that we must continue to rethink the role of the museum as a critical institution that transforms itself while developing a community of relationships.
A museum open to the world and without compartments, a true "critical instrument" endowed with meaning. A base that allows direct contact between the artist, the public and society.
This way of understanding the role of the museum recognizes the need for an artistic institution to be fully responsible for its mission, which will only be fulfilled if the institution is deeply inclusive, capable of promoting exchanges and generating encounters, as well as providing a platform for the transformative power of art.

Exhibition view - ‘Gräberfeld’ (2008) Tacita Dean and ‘We the People (Detail)’ (2011-2014) Danh Vö at Museum of Contemporary Art Helga de Alvear. Photo: Joaquín Cortés
Exhibition view - ‘Gräberfeld’ (2008) Tacita Dean and ‘We the People (Detail)’ (2011-2014) Danh Vö at Museum of Contemporary Art Helga de Alvear. Photo: Joaquín Cortés
Exhibition view – ‘Corona republicana 0’ (2014) Juan Luis Moraza; ‘Papel moneda’ (2007) Ignasi Aballí; ‘Untitled (Candles)’ (2012) Philippe Parreno; ‘Bottari, Oct.22 2000’ (2000) Kimsooja; ‘Pavilion For Showing Rock Videos/Films (Desing I)’ (2012) Dan Graham and ‘DOLOSO. Barrita’ (2017) Ana Prada at Museum of Contemporary Art Helga de Alvear. Photo: Joaquín Cortés
Exhibition view – ‘Corona republicana 0’ (2014) Juan Luis Moraza; ‘Papel moneda’ (2007) Ignasi Aballí; ‘Untitled (Candles)’ (2012) Philippe Parreno; ‘Bottari, Oct.22 2000’ (2000) Kimsooja; ‘Pavilion For Showing Rock Videos/Films (Desing I)’ (2012) Dan Graham and ‘DOLOSO. Barrita’ (2017) Ana Prada at Museum of Contemporary Art Helga de Alvear. Photo: Joaquín Cortés

How do you, as a director, ensure that the museum stays contemporary and current in the fast-paced world that is the art market?

I believe the museum should create a space that is prone to production, a space where the exercise of freedom is a constant. Thus, we will seek to have a dynamic, open, and transversal program, to reach that utopian community to which, in an ideal world, all museums should aspire: a community for all human beings.


Which publicly accessible private collection would you recommend visiting (internationally)?

I would recommend visiting the singular and inspirational collection of José Luis Soler, which is being exhibited through temporary exhibitions at Bombas Gens, in Valencia, Spain.

Exhibition view - ‘Gardini’ (2009) Steve Mcqueen at Museum of Contemporary Art Helga de Alvear. Photo: Joaquín Cortés
Exhibition view - ‘Gardini’ (2009) Steve Mcqueen at Museum of Contemporary Art Helga de Alvear. Photo: Joaquín Cortés
Exhibition view - ‘Untitled (Adolfo Bioy Casares)’ (2013) Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster at Museum of Contemporary Art Helga de Alvear. Photo: Carlos Criado
Exhibition view - ‘Untitled (Adolfo Bioy Casares)’ (2013) Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster at Museum of Contemporary Art Helga de Alvear. Photo: Carlos Criado

Insiders (66)

MATTHIAS ARNDT

Collector behind the ARNDT Collection

Grazyna Kulczyk

Founder of Muzeum Susch

THE FAIREST

Interview with Georgie Pope and Eleonora Sutter, Co-founders

Kamiar Maleki

Director at VOLTA

Gallery Weekend Berlin 2022

Tokini Peterside

Founder and Director, ART X Lagos

Poka-Yio

Founding Director of the Athens Biennale

Boris Ondreička

Artistic Director of viennacontemporary

Maribel Lopez

Director of ARCO

David Gryn

Founder and Director of Daata

Fondation Beyeler Audiovisual Broadcast

Fondation Beyeler and Nordstern Basel present Dixon x Transmoderna

Gary Yeh

Founder of ArtDrunk and Young Collector

WATCH: The Best of the BMW Art Guide

Where will you travel next to explore art?

Maike Cruse

2020 Gallery Weekend Berlin

Touria El Glaoui

Founding Director of 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair

Johann König

Messe in St. Agnes

PArt - Producers Art Platform

A crisis initiative to help artists directly affected by the pandemic

Barbara Moore

CEO of Biennale of Sydney

Unique Collector’s Item

by Independent Collectors

Alix Dana

Fair Director at Independent

When Collectors are Able to Commission

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Juliet Kothe and Julia Rust

Initiators of Collection Night, Berlin

Marie-Anne McQuay

Curator of Wales in Venice, 58th Venice Biennale 2019

Dorothy and Herb Vogel

Two extraordinary art collectors

Heather Hubbs

Director at NADA

Every Art Collection Needs Space

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Collecting Art with François Pinault

Rudolf Stingel at Palazzo Grassi

A Common Ground

by Silvia Anna Barrilà

Caroline Vos

Director at Amsterdam Art Weekend

Hidden Collections

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Nicole Berry

Executive Director of The Armory Show

Daniel Hug

Fair Director at Art Cologne

The Role of the Art Fair

by Silvia Anna Barrilà

Peter Bläuer

Director at LISTE

A Brush Against Nature

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Ilaria Bonacossa

Director of Artissima

Excessiveness, the Latent Danger of Collecting Art

by Independent Collectors

Jo Stella-Sawicka

Artistic Director at Frieze

Florence Bourgeois

Director at Paris Photo

Where Artists Can Work More Playfully

by Christiane Meixner

Specifically Commissioned

by Silvia Anna Barrilà

Manuela Mozo

Executive Director of UNTITLED, ART Miami and San Francisco

Important Museums and Private Collections

by Christiane Meixner

Susanna Corchia

Director of the Barcelona Gallery Weekend

Emilia van Lynden

Artistic Director at Unseen, Amsterdam

Carlos Urroz

Director at ARCOmadrid

Shoe Smudges Streaked Across the White Walls

by Christiane Meixner

Amanda Coulson

Director at VOLTA Basel

Douwe Cramer

Director at Singapore Contemporary

Art and Architecture – Attractive Allies

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Jo Baring

Curator of Sculpture Series, Masterpiece London

Bidders and Buyers

by Christiane Meixner

Anne Vierstraete

Managing Director at Art Brussels

Nanna Hjortenberg

Director at CHART

The Crucial Role of the New

by Independent Collectors

Makers and Believers

On Art History’s Most Famous Patrons

The Past is Back

And collectors are buying it up

Are Artists the Better Curators?

On the diminishing boundary between professions in the art world

The Digital Museum

On the importance of the museum’s web presence

The Man in the Middle

On the curator’s private and public engagements

A Private Matter?

On the importance of physical space for the value of art

Off the Wall

How museums contribute to the worth of artworks

Where to Go Next?

The fragmentation of Manhattan’s gallery scene

To Buy or Not to Buy

Collectors on their experiences of letting an artwork slip away

How to Pass On a Passion

On long-term challenges for new private museums