• Picasso Ibero was the Centro Botín’s stellar venture in 2021, and the exhibition received 65,644 visitors between May 1 and September 12, with the greatest number on August 18, when 1,320 people came to the show.
  • The Fundación Botín is more than satisfied with a year that actually achieved an increase in activities over 2019 and in which the numbers of visitors gradually caught up on that landmark year. It is worth recalling that “although the number of visitors is not the objective, without visitors the objective cannot be achieved”.
  • Some 65% of the visitors to the exhibitions were from Cantabria, a percentage that reaffirms the Centro Botín’s vocation to be a living project, absolutely integrated into the city of Santander. In addition, 27% came from other autonomous communities, with the Basque Country, Madrid, Andalusia and Asturias at the head, and more than 7% from outside of Spain.
  • Last year 4,346 new Cantabrian Passes and 815 new Friend of the Centro Botín Cards were issued, very positive numbers in a year that has seen the public start to return to physically enjoying art in person.

The figures detailed by the Director General of the Fundación Botín, Íñigo Sáenz de Miera, in his presentation to the International Tourism Fair (FITUR) show the Centro Botín coming close to its 2019 performance, with 111,096 visitors in 2021 – an increase of 105% on the previous year. The building and its walkways, squares and outdoor spaces attracted an influx of 577,020 visits, also a significant improvement on the year before at almost 48% higher. According to Sáenz de Miera, “Of every ten people who walk through the outdoor spaces, two come inside the Centro Botín to discover its exhibition proposal, a conversion that is significantly better than before.”

The Director General of the Fundación Botín recalled that the number of visitors has never been the metric by which the Centro Botín measures its impact, “although it is true that, without visitors, the objective cannot be achieved.” He also assured that “the social mission of the Centre continues to be its contribution to the development of the region’s economy and creativity, an objective that the new indicator of regional creativity which we have defined in conjunction with IE University will decisively help to achieve.”

Of the registered admissions to the exhibitions, visitors from Santander and Cantabria were once again in the majority, accounting for 65% of the total, a percentage that keeps growing year on year and confirms the consolidation of the Centro Botín as a project that, in parallel with its outstanding projection international, sees its integration in the city and its local impact as priorities. With regard to the other visitors, 27% came from other autonomous communities, with the Basque Country, Madrid, Andalusia and Asturias at the fore, and 7% from a total of 59 different countries, the ranking being led by France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Netherlands, Germany and Portugal, and including other more distant points of origin such as Mexico and the United States.

Picasso Ibero as the star attraction

Of the twelve months of the year, August once again brought the highest number of visits to Centro Botín exhibitions, accounting for 25% of the annual total, followed by July (14,986) and September (12,064). A curious fact: the single days that saw most visits were the 18th (1,320), the 4th (1,294th) and the 21st of August (1,230) respectively, with the exhibition Picasso Ibero as the main protagonist, an exhibition that received 65,644 visitors between May 1 and September 12. In addition, the weekend of “the greatest love of art” was that of Saint Valentine’s Day, when 57 couples chose to celebrate their commitment by becoming Friends of the Centro Botín.

Another positive datum is the issuing of 4,346 new Permanent Passes (12 a day over the course of 2021), with the result that 144,567 citizens of Santander and Cantabria now have this accreditation giving unlimited free access to our exhibitions. Another positive number is the 815 new Friends of the Centro Botín, enrolled at an average of one every ten hours, bringing the community of people enrolled in this programme to 2,745. We must add to these figures our thirty volunteers, two strategic partners (Fundación Mutua Madrileña and Fundación Prosegur), fourteen collaborating institutions (Vocento, El Diario Montañés, JCDecaux, Unidad Editorial, El País, Eurostars Hotels, Spend In, Onda Cero, Cervezas Alhambra, Alsa, Cadena Ser, CANTUR, Santander City Council and Renfe) and seven associated companies (Bridgestone, Viajes Mesana, Derwent Group, Café Dromedario, Bathco, MiCampus and Uría Menéndez), all of whom support us and help us to promote our project and carry out the social mission of the Centro Botín in affirming the importance of the arts in the development of society.

To complete this snapshot of data from the Centro Botín we have 37,985 followers on Facebook (+9%) and 12,581 on Twitter (+2%). In the matter of social networks, Instagram was once again the one that grew the most, with the number of our followers increasing by almost 13%. In addition, the Centro Botín website received 423,873 visits, 52% more than in 2020.

Even greater participation in our activities

Of the 111,096 visitors that the Centro Botín received in 2021, 92,555 enjoyed its artistic exhibitions and 18,541 took part in our wide range of arts-centred educational and cultural activities, with 396 different options and an average satisfaction rating of 4.8 out of 5. To quote Íñigo Sáenz de Miera again, “participation in the activities put on by the Centro Botín in 2021 has increased by 23% compared to the previous year, with even more activities being carried out than in 2019 (+56%), which undoubtedly contributes to achieving our social mission”.

While most of the Centre’s activities were educational (285), it is also worth noting the importance of concerts (51), film sessions (38), performing arts shows (18) and literary activities (4) in our commitment to engaging all the arts and catering to all kinds of audiences. Here, the most well attended activities were the concerts featuring a wide range of musical genres attracted a total of 8,818 people, the different types of visit 3,269, film screenings 3,208 and the participatory creative actions 972.

In 2021, the Centro Botín actively contributed to the reactivation of the cultural sector, working with 288 artists, experts, researchers, professionals, companies and institutions in the cultural and creative sphere, 90 of which were local. “This year, collaboration, teamwork and the generation of networks have been especially important, and at the same time one of the biggest challenges that we have had to overcome due to the restrictions in transport, in visitor capacity and other factors and the need for a great number of additional security and protection measures,” the Director General said.

With regard to exhibitions, the Centro Botín resumed in 2021 its firm commitment to offering visitors from all over the country and beyond yet more opportunities to get to know and appreciate the best of the visual arts, both national and international, in an inspiring setting. Despite the added difficulties occasioned by the pandemic, the Centre staged two major international exhibitions: Picasso Ibero, as the outstanding art show of the year, and Thomas Demand. World of Paper, which runs until March 6.

This year, 2022, we are able to resume out project of an exhibition by the internationally acclaimed artist Ellen Gallagher, originally planned for the 2020 calendar. Curated by Bárbara Rodríguez Muñoz, the Centro Botín’s Director of Exhibitions and the Collection, and Benjamin Weil, Director of the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian’s centre for modern art, this will be Ellen Gallagher’s first exhibition in Spain together with the Dutch artist Edgar Cleijne, co-author of many of the works, and will open to the public on April 14. The show will be followed on June 25 by the exhibition of Juan Muñoz, who will discover his career as a draftsman. Curated by the author and specialist in modern and contemporary art Dieter Schwarz, it will bring together more than two hundred works by the Spanish artist, presenting for the first time an overview of his output on paper. On October 8, the exhibition of the Mexican Damián Ortega will open its doors. This show, curated by Vicente Todolí, Chair of the Fundación Botín’s Visual Arts Advisory Committee, promises to activate in the visitor a new and transcendent way of looking at familiar objects and routine interactions, this being a key aspect of Ortega’s artistic practice. The exhibition programme is rounded off by Thomas Demand. World of Paper and Itinerarios, the collective show that year on year presents the works of the artists who received one of the Fundación Botín’s Visual Arts Grants: the opening on November 19 of Itinerarios XXVII will bring together the projects of the beneficiaries of the 27th annual grant awards. More information at


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