In the main building of the museum, designed by Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy, the visitor can find a collection of modern and contemporary art.
Previously the ground and first floor spaces were exclusively occupied by Moroccan artists, mainly from the Essaouira region. This has now evolved to allow a dialogue with other artists as in other exhibition spaces. The first entrance hall now still harbours two paintings by Mohamed Tabal from Essaouira and a large Boucharouite Tapestry but also portraits of the founders by Mati Klarwein, terra cotta low reliefs of them by Vu Cao Dam and a bust of Ben Jakober by Giuseppe Ducrot.
A new acquisition of a red abstract work by George Hairbrush Tjungurrayi leads the visitor into the next hall finding on the left a work by Yousef Ait Tazarin, then in the stairway a wooden Baga Snake form from Guinea, a smaller steel snake by Ben and Yannick Jakober and an 18th century engraving by Albertus Seba fill the void. On the right at the start of the stairs is the painting ‘Bush potato’ by Barbara Weir a pupil of the important Aborigine artist Emily Kwame Kngwarreye.
Entering the first room we immediately are struck in the Diwan by the large painting by another highly important Aborigine artist Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri. In this way we are showing the similarities and differences between the indigenous Australian and Essaouira artists.
In the first room on the first floor of the Hassan Fathy building, works by contemporary African artists are exhibited under the title Ex Africa semper aliquid novi. The artists are: Soly Cissé (Senegal, 1969), Gresham Tapiwa Nyaude (Zimbabwe, 1988), Thierry Oussou (Benin, 1988), Serge Attukwei Clottey (Ghana, 1985), El Anatsui (Ghana, 1944), Houston Maludi (Democratic Republic of the Congo, 1978), Kane Kwei / Eric Adjerty Anag, (Ghana). A twentieth century hunter tunic from Nigeria is also displayed. The innovative second room has on entering on the left a dialogue between the Essaouira painter Abdelmalek Berhiss and the Aborigene artist George Hairbrush Tjungurrayi with magnificent examples of both their work.
The next wall now ostentates three examples of the work of Mohamed Tabal – an early combine painting and the magnificent portraits of Arnold de Contades and his late wife Anne Marie, both donations of the couple's heirs. On the same wall there is a ceramic work also by Tabal depicting his origins as a Gnaoua artist
It also exhibits a selection of drawings and illustrations by the Italian artists Domenico Gnoli, made in Majorca and Rome between 1962-69, among these there are the famous series "The Monsters", for which the English author Robert Graves, who lived on Majorca in Deyá, wrote a text, and in 2013 it was exhibited in the central Pavilion of the Venice Biennial.
On the first floor you can also see a selection of more than 50 photographic portraits of key artists of the 20th and 21st centuries, in black and white and colour, by the renowned German art critic Werner Krüger, who kindly donate a part of his personal archive to the Foundation. Among the represented artists are: De Chirico, Kounellis, Moore, Tàpies, Tinguely, Beuys, Baselitz, Oldenburg, Ando, Newton, Schnabel, Vostell, Johns, Kiefer, Barceló, Serra, and Hartung.
This wing also contains a sculpture room, including works by Meret Oppenheim, Miralda, Takis and Alan Rath, among others, and artists’ chairs.
On the second floor, are the paintings on silk and sculptures by Vu Cao Dam (1908-2000), father of Yannick Vu, considered one of the best Vietnamese artists of the 20th century.
The eastern subtlety of this exhibition contrasts with the beauty of the polychrome “Mudejar” coffered ceiling of the last room, dated 1498 and declared "Heritage of the Balearic Islands", a unique experience that will delight those who are interested in the art of that period.
Following images, from top to bottom and from left to right:
-Ground floor, Ali Maimoune, M'rabet, Tahar Benjelloun, mezzanine first floor with paintings of Moroccan artists from Essaouira
-First floor, series of drawings "An afternoon of bulls in Palma de Mallorca", 1966, Domenico Gnoli, Takis, Meret Oppenheim, Artists’ Chairs, "Les Marocains" by Leila Alaoui (ground floor)
-Second floor, sculptures and paintings by Vu Cao Dam