The MuVIM and the Parque del Hospital
The MuVIM, or Museu Valencià de la Il·lustració i la Modernitat, is located in the park where the city’s first public hospital was built, in the 14th century. Today, the municipal library occupies the former hospital building.
As its name suggests, the MuVIM focuses on modern illustration. It’s a strange museum with a disorienting layout; it takes some time to find the ticket counter, and even longer to locate any of the art. To reach the “Alfons Roig” Room, for instance, you have to follow a long hallway underground. For another, you have to leave the museum, cross a small plaza, search out an unmarked elevator, and ascend to the third floor. I imagine most visitors to the MuVIM never manage to see all the exhibits.
The permanent exhibition of the MuVIM is called La Aventura del Pensamiento (The Adventure of Thought), and uses audio-visual to document and explore the birth of modern thought beginning in the Middle Ages. This is well-done, but the museum’s temporary exhibits are of wildly varying quality. I’m excited whenever there’s something about comics (comics are a frequent theme in this museum of modern illustration), but the last time we went, three of the four temporary exhibits were simply photographs of celebrities. Seriously, one was nothing more than poorly-focused snapshots of Spanish actors on the red carpet. The MuVIM is about as hit-and-miss as museums come, and simply isn’t on the same level as the nearby IVAM.
But it’s worth walking by, if only to spend some time in the Parque del Hospital. Valencia’s Hospital de los Pobres Inocentes was the city’s first General Hospital; prior to this, the city’s poor and infirm had been cared for in privately-funded household medical centers. The hospital has long since moved to more modern quarters, and the lovely old Renaissance-style building has become the new home of the Biblioteca Pública.
Take a walk around the irregularly-shaped park to see ruins from Valencia’s ancient past. There is a small archaeological zone with sculptures and columns from the hospital, found during excavations. This is a popular park with students who use the library to study, skateboarders who use the cement to practice, and transients who use the benches to sleep. Also, there’s an excellent restaurant nearby by the name of Rivendel. During the summer, they’ll often set up a screen in the park and show silent movies with music provided by a live orchestra.