The current Museum of Huelva is formed by a new building, with a useful surface area of 3,000 m² divided into three floors and a lower-ground floor. As has occurred with other museums with similar characteristics, initially its contents were structured in three sections: Archaeology, Fine Arts and Ethnography. This last section was never actually installed in the museum, because in 1971 the State set up the "Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions of Aracena" as the ethnographical section of the Museum of Huelva, in an attempt to provide the province with a certain cultural infrastructure. A great many difficulties obliged its closure at the beginning of the 80s, and most of its objects were moved to the Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions of Sevilla. To make up for the absence of this section, temporary exhibitions are promoted in the museum, in an attempt to maintain the understanding, preservation and diffusion of the rich cultural heritage of our province.
The Archaeological Section was set up on a surface area of approximately 950 m², divided in a hall for permanent exhibition of approximately 300 m² and a storeroom for objects which can be visited occasionally. Supported by the rich historic past of the province, among the collections, the elements from the dolmen complex of La Zarcita and El Pozuelo, the rich funerary pieces under Eastern influence in the necropolis of La Joya, the materials of Phoenician and Greek origin, documented in the urban excavations of the city, and the ceramic and metallic objects which verify the high level of development achieved by the Tartessus culture through the mining-metallurgic practices of the mines from Huelva, with important sites such as Tejada la Vieja (Escacena del Campo) or Niebla.
The collection of mining materials from Riotinto during the Roman period is of particular interest, with unique pieces such as the hydraulic wheel exhibited in the entrance hall of the museum. This Canjáyar waterwheel, which was used to extract water from the interior of the mines, is proof of the technological advances made during the Roman period. It also shows the recovery work and patrimonial diffusion carried out by the cultural institutions in Andalucía, with clear examples such as the recent restoration of this hydraulic device, the only one that has been fully preserved in Spain and is one of the limited existing exponents in the world.
Covering a surface area of approximately 650 m², the Fine Arts section is divided into four exhibition halls and a storage area, all of which are located on the first floor of the building. After the museum was inaugurated, the collection grew due to the deposits from the Museum of Fine Arts of Sevilla and the Spanish Museum of Contemporary Art (MEAC), which is now the Reina Sofia National Museum and Art Centre (MNCARS). As the years passed, the number of pictorial objects also grew with the incorporation of works from both the institutional framework and individual donations. Two works are on almost permanent exhibition:
The work by the painter Daniel Vázquez Díaz from Nerva, consisting of a significant deposit which the MEAC made in 1973, subsequently growing with purchases by the Department of Culture of the Junta de Andalucía. We should make mention to the group of charcoal portraits of intellectuals of the time or the work"Muerte de un torero" (Death of a bullfighter), in which, in addition to showing all his talent in plastic arts, the painter paid homage to his native town depicting some of his fellow countrymen in the canvas.
Plastic arts from Huelva
The work gathered in the history of plastic arts from Huelva, from the students of the old School of Fine Arts at the beginning of the 20th century to present. Noteworthy works include those by José Caballero, recently acquired by the Junta de Andalucía, or donations by local artists such as Mateo Orduña Castellanos, Granado Valdés, Castro Crespo, José María Franco or Juan Manuel Vidal among others.