Exhibition opens Thursday in Jackson

By Staff
MAJESTIC Jack L. Kyle, executive director of the Mississippi Commission for International Cultural Exchange, gets a close look at the 55-foot-long gold-gilded gondola, an early recreational vehicle used by Spanish royalty and a key element of the exhibition "The Majesty of Spain." For ticket information, call TicketMaster, (877) 709-2639. Photo by Nell Luter Floyd/Special to The Star
By Nell Luter Floyd/Special to The Star
Feb. 25, 2001
JACKSON The royal gondola is in place, newly gilded and polished.
The royal carriage has regained its spectacular appearance.
The two items are among the most majestic of Spanish treasures that go on display Thursday when The Majesty of Spain: Royal Collections from the Museo del Prado &Patrimonio Nacional opens in Jackson.
This exhibition, the largest Spanish exhibit shown outside its own country, is a $9.8 million project that will draw visitors from around the world to Mississippi. And, not just Jackson.
Meridian strategic
Kyle's marketing strategy for The Majesty of Spain pays particular attention to cities such as Meridian that border states from which a large number of visitors are expected.
Visit early
Mississippians are encouraged to visit the museum during March, Kyle said, so that they can help spread the word about it and encourage others to attend.
The exhibit will feature 14 galleries of royal riches from the Prado Museum and the Royal Palaces in Madrid, El Escorial, Aranjuez and El Pardo. More than 600 objects, including tapestries, sculpture, porcelains, bronzes, armaments, thrones, furnishings, ivories, religious objects and costumes lend a feeling for the majesty of Spain from the 18th century to the early 19th century.
Among the largest objects are a 55-foot, hand-carved and gilded royal gondola and a handsome carriage. Another treasure is the painting El Quitasol by Francisco de Goya, so beloved that it's on loan only for the exhibit's first three months.
Like the commission's previous exhibits "Palaces of St. Petersburg: Russian Imperial Style" and "Splendors of Versailles" magnificent room recreations will be among the defining elements of the show.
On display
The Majesty of Spain includes a variety of objects owned by Spanish kings and queens.
More than 50 craftsmen worked a year in Spain to recreate the Porcelain Room from the Royal Palace of Aranjuez. The room features walls and ceiling
covered in exotic Chinese figures, birds, animals, fruits, flowers and dragons.
Equally dramatic is the recreation of the Hall of Stuccoes from the Casita del Principe at El Pardo. Its walls are made of scagliola, a faux marble that was used extensively when Mississippi's New Capitol was built.
Also stunning is the recreation of the Sculpture Gallery from the Labrador Casita at Aranjuez with its Roman busts, decorative marble floor and painted vaulted ceiling. Artist Alwin van der Linde, a Dutch portrait artist who lives in Madrid, painted the decorative elements.
Top event
The American Bus Association also considers the exhibit hard-to-top. It has designated the exhibit the "2001 Top United States Event."
Mississippi's First Lady Melanie Musgrove values The Majesty of Spain not only for its tourism impact but also its educational and cultural aspects.
The Majesty of Spain is enriching not just for school-age children but also adults, said Lt. Gov. Tuck.
The Majesty of Spain is a chance for Mississippians to impress visitors who might not otherwise come to the state, Tuck said.
Advance ticket reservations are suggested. About 50,000 ticket reservations have already been accepted, Kyle said. Individual tickets are $15 for adults, $14 for seniors 60 and older, $10 for college and university students with I.D. and $5 for infants through youngsters age 18.
Tickets are sold for a specific time and date, based on availability. Each ticket includes an audio tour narrated by Mississippi-born actor Morgan Freeman. Two hours are suggested for a visit to the exhibit, browsing in the exhibit gift shop and refreshments in the exhibit caf.