Spain's cultural heritage under threat amid economic crisis

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The solid, 16th-century Basque farmhouse known as Caserío Zabalaga sits among green fields and ancient oaks on farmland between the towns of Hernani and Lasarte, a tranquil refuge from the busy industrial fringe of Spain's northern Guipuzcoa province.

Chillida-Leku, as the farm is now called, houses the museum of one of Spain's most famous and beloved 20th-century artists – the sculptor Eduardo Chillida, a man whose place in art resembles that of Britain's Henry Moore.

Next month, however, it will close, proof that the economic crisis sweeping southern Europe is taking with it not just the cultural riches of antiquity but also some contemporary jewels. On 1 January the Chillida-Leku museum near San Sebastian will send its 23 employees home. It has run out of money.

The Chillida family promises to conserve the 50 huge outdoor sculptures, many made in Chillida's tell-tale materials of iron and granite, and the smaller works displayed in the main building, but they need public funds to maintain his legacy in the form that the artist had planned....

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