Spanish Treasures in the U.S.

"Paris Je T'aime" director Christopher Doyle captures a moment in Cannes, southern France, May 18, 2006.
Majesty of Spain Exhibit Interview with Jack Kyle and Juan Romero
August 2, 2001

Randall Pinkston:
Pop quiz: what American city has hosted art treasures from St. Petersburg, Russia, Versailles, France and now, Spain? Centuries-old paintings, sculptures and treasures and tapestries are common in the museums of Europe. They’re often exhibited in major cities in this country. But, what are some of the priceless treasures of the royal family of Spain doing in the capital of Mississippi? Well, they are here on loan to the United States .. in the “Majesty of Spain” exhibit at the Mississippi Arts Pavilion.
More than one hundred people helped bring these priceless artifacts to Jackson. More than a quarter of a million people have come to see them … including King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia.

Pinkston: The exhibit’s organizer is the Executive Director of the Mississippi Commission for International Cultural Exchange. Jack Kyle joins us from our affiliate at WJTV in Jackson. Hello Mr. Kyle thanks for being with us.

Kyle: Good morning.

Pinkston: First question…how many pieces did you bring from Spain and give me an example of some of the artworks that are probably most notable?

Kyle: The world renown Prado museum loaned to us approximately sixty great paintings nd about a dozen sculptures. Including in these great paintings, paintings by Francisco de Goya, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, and Anton Rafael Mengs. For the very first time the oyal Palaces of Spain through their organization, the Patrimonio Nacional, loaned us objects and never before had the Royal Palaces of Spain allowed an exhibition to be ounted. And we have over three hundred major artworks and decretive artworks from four royal palaces including the great royal palace, the Palacio Royal in Madrid and three royal casitas of Spain.

Pinkston: Give me an estimated value of all of the works including the works of art, as well as, the material, and the artifacts that you brought from the palaces?

Kyle: Due to security reasons we never discuss the value of the art in terms of dollar figures, but these great artworks are priceless. They are the cultural and historical heritage of Spain. And Spain’s history particularly during the period of 1732 to 1846, the period the exhibit covers.

Pinkston: We are also joined by Spain’s Cultural Attaché to the United States, at our Washington bureau, Mr. Juan Romero is with us. I understand, maybe not you, but some people in Spain were a little skeptical when this art impresario from Jackson, Mississippi came calling asking for you tell him take your precious works back to Mississippi with him?

Romero: We knew the works Jack Kyle had already prepared before with the French government and the Russian government and we were very willing to recommend to our people in Madrid. His plans were excellent. We were convinced of that.

Pinkston: Had there been other mseums in the U.S. that had asked for these works in the past and they had been turned down?

Romero: No, the exhibition is so big, it is so extraordinary, the biggest exhibition, and biggest effort that Spain and the U.S. have ever done in a project like this and it will be impossible to move it to other places.

Pinkston: Let us go back now to Mr. Kyle. Give us, if you can, a brief form of a description of how the exhibition is arranged? Talk to us first about the five rooms.

Kyle: Well, in this exhibition Mr. Pinkston we have recreated several rooms representational of some of the royal palaces and casitas in Spain. Two of the stellar highlights of which will be the porcelain room from the Royal Palace of Aranjuez where over fifty-five artisans spent over a year recreating and reproducing. Molds were taken of the original. This room dates back to the early part of the eighteenth century. A second tremendous room is the hall of stuccoes from another of the royal casitas at El Pardo and this room is made of scagliola, of this false marble stucco composition. And we relied on Spanish artisans who worked continuously in the restoration processes.

Pinkston: Let me stop you for a moment. Pardon me for interrupting, but how much did it cost the state of Mississippi to transport to prepare to present this exhibition?

Kyle: Well, the entire budget for this exhibition is approximately ten million dollars. Just to recreate these two rooms, that I just mentioned, we spent a million and a half dollars in Spain with these tremendous artisans that I cannot say enough good things about.

Pinkston: Well, let me ask a sort poignant question and you will understand since you a Mississippian, and so am I for that matter. Mississippi is ranked near the bottom of the list in so many areas. Let’s just take education for example. How do you justify this kind of expenditure for a beautiful art exhibit for sure, but in a place where there are so many needs for public taxpayer dollars?

Kyle: Well, first of all, education is the number one goal of the Mississippi Commission for International Cultural Exchange. Through the three exhibitions that we have organized, including this one, nearly four hundred thousand school students have personally visited these exhibitions. And to prepare these students for their visits we have developed a comprehensive educational program. Our colleges and universities throughout the state worked with us in developing curriculum material with the curators from Spain, Versailles, and St. Petersburg, Russia prior to that. But every teacher in Mississippi, over forty thousand teachers, receive a one hundred-page teacher’s guide. We conduct professional curriculum development seminars for the teachers in all five congressional districts.

Pinkston: So you’re saying that all the dollars that have been expended are well spent and you believe will redound to the benefit to not only to Missssippians, but also people who are visiting this exhibit?

Kyle: Absolutely, and our state government, the Mississippi legislature has been keynote in its support to make these projects possible. The city of Jackson, our corporate business community and individuals throughout this state.

Pinkston: We are out of time. I am sorry to interrupt you Mr. Kyle. Of course there is never enough time for our interviews, but we do want to thank you. We understand that a quarter of a million people have visited so far. The exhibit is open another month. It closes in another month, September third I believe.

Kyle: That is correct. And Mr. Pinkston I cannot say enough nice things about the Spanish people and all of the officials in Spain including my dear friend from the Washington Embassy of Spain.

Pinkston: My apologies for running out of time, but that is all we have. Thank you Jack Kyle, Executive Director of the Mississippi Commission for International Cultural Exchange and in Washington, Spain’s Cultural Attaché, Juan Romero.