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Housed in an old Modernist textile factory, CaixaForum is a cultural centre run by ´La Caixa´, the largest savings bank in Europe and the third biggest financial company in Spain.The savings giant has a strong sense of social obligation and runs a great number of projects in an attempt to give something back to society, primarily social and medical in nature but also focused on the arts.They are therefore responsible for a variety of cultural events, exhibitions and concerts, all free or with hugely reduced entry fees, and maintain some permanent collections of which CaixaForum is the Barcelona home.

CaixaForum´s home is of considerable importance; it was designed by the Modernist architect Puig i Cadafalch and won a national architecture prize in 1913.Unfortunately the textile factory closed shortly afterwards in the general strike of 1920; since then it was used as a warehouse during the 1929 World Fair, housed the National Guards from 1940-1992 whilst being declared a National Heritage monument in 1976.The restoration of the old factory into a working exhibition space was a huge project in itself; there is now an enlightening display tracking the building’s history using photographs and models, a fascinating insight into the only surviving example of Modernism in an industrial setting.What greets visitors today is therefore a reworking of the brick factory combined with modern architectural features, including two unusual steel and glass trees by Arata Isozaku at the front entrance.

Fortunately the space given over by the old factory allows the display of modern art in all its shapes and sizes, including installations by Joseph Beuys and Jannis Kounellis.Apart from the permanent collection of modern art, there are wonderful temporary exhibitions to be visited for free; from Henry Moore sculptures to William Hogarth paintings they encompass all media including photography and film.It organises workshops, guided tours, caters for school trips and has a 350 seat auditorium, truly doing a great deal to make art accessible for people.

In the summer of 2007 the centre will be open until midnight and is running a programme of events that include a gospel choir, Brazilian music, a fashion show, theatrical acts, Indian dance and Japanese animation – something for everyone!See website for details.

CaixaForum, Avda Marqués de Comillas 6-8

http://obrasocial.lacaixa.es/centros/caixaforumbcn_es.html

Opening times: Tues-Sun 10am-8pm, (open until midnight July/August), closed Mon

Entry: free

Metro: Espanya (L1, L3)