MIA Art Collection’s virtual museum makes real difference to art world - GulfToday

MIA Art Collection’s virtual museum makes real difference to art world


An artwork from the portfolio of Mia Art Collection.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

MIA Art Collection’s virtual museum MIA Anywhere is an online Aladdin’s cave that hosts around 1,000 artworks from all over the world. It is a private art collection founded by Alejandra Castro Rioseco, with a global footprint aimed at promoting women artists and their work.

“We were the first to create a virtual museum — MIA Anywhere — during the pandemic, and we had it up for the public within three days,” recalls Rioseco. “First, we started with our collection, and then we created four rooms for artists, galleries and organisations to exhibit.


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“It has been a success, because of the visibility that we have been able to give to the artists, and especially when we were able to give people the opportunity to experience a museum in such a critical time in our history.”

Rioseco speaks to Gulf Today

What made you an art collector?

I believe that a person does not become something if he does not have a need inside ... in my personal case, it is the need for the beauty of harmony and balance, the need for the deep message of seeing the mind through the gaze of art. Art is the framework of our history, and through art, we can understand our past and see how today’s artists see what future history will be.

Why do you support women’s art?

We support women’s art because we need to reach a balance in the valuation of art. Today, women’s art is less visible; museums do not exceed 20 per cent of women’s works exhibited in their rooms, art galleries sell less art of women and finally, female artists are less valued than male artists in the world. MIA Art Collection decided some years ago that this will be our way of collaborating towards a more egalitarian, fairer and therefore more balanced society. MIA Art Collection does not showcase male artists, only women artists.

Emirates based art promoter Alejandra Castro Rioseco.

How does art empower women?

Art has the power to transform, to bring out what is inside. Supporting the world of women in art is essential for them to continue creating. A person who does not feel that their work is valued is an unhappy person — the same happens in art. That is why we are so happy with what Expo 2020 Dubai has done — put art in its pavilions and created a public art programme where the role of the female artist has been highly valued and well received. In this case, it is an example of how a society grows in balance and harmony.

What makes you buy a particular piece of art?

There are many factors: the first is the message of the art piece, the context, the story behind each artist, how she develops it, how she expresses it and finally, how we and our art curators see it. The works that enter MIA Art Collection must be works that meet several parameters such as the message it conveys, the process of creation, care for the environment, sustainability and no animal abuse. We are very careful about each work we acquire because we know that it will be a legacy — and that requires great responsibility.

What are the qualities of Arab art that attracts you?

Uffff! So many! Arabic art for me, has a unique context and history. The way it mixes history with language and culture, including those of ancestors. The talent of Emirati artists is enormous; they are strong and sensitive women at the same time, and they manage to capture all that information in really beautiful pieces of art, with history and a very strong human sense. I think the Emirates cultural work has been exceptional!

As a Chilean, you must see common features between South American-Hispanic and Arab-Emirati cultures. What is common between them?

Even though I was born in Chile, I don’t feel very represented by that culture, because my ancestors are Spanish — and there are enormous similarities there. The origin is the same, the culture, the value for the family, the traditions, the music, the food, how we live every day. I have found a lot in this land that has given me great Arab friends from whom I learn about culture, traditions and religion. Spaniards are very similar to Arabs: we like the same things and we communicate and understand perfectly. We love and respect the same things and values.

You have plans to open a physical space for art. How far have they progressed? Will it be in the UAE or elsewhere?

MIA Art Collection has worked for several years with architects from different parts of the world to come up with the project that best represents what the Collection does.

We have presented the idea of building an art space exclusively for women, and we have received many proposals from different parts of the world. But my family and I live in the Emirates and we think this is the perfect

place to create a dream like this, because the country gives opportunities and opens doors for everything that has to do with culture and art.

We have decided to do something that is really unique — the way things are done in the UAE.

What are the pluses that makes the UAE and the Gulf spearheads for popularising regional art?

The advantages are many: the Emirates has become the centre of the world today. Everybody is watching and learning from what happens here and that is a unique opportunity to show the world its talent in art, talent expressed for thousands of years. This is a door that allows us to look at the Arab world, even though everyone knows the years of history and stature that many Arab countries have. The UAE has modernised its approach — bringing here, for example, the best museums in the world! The Louvre and Guggenheim create synergies between history, culture and art.


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