The exhibition coincides with the 80th anniversary of the law on national artistic heritage (Ley del Tesoro Artístico Nacional), which Orueta promoted as the Director General for Fine Arts. The law was the most important initiative in Spanish history for safeguarding Spanish heritage, and was so modern that it remained unchanged until the 1985 law was passed.
The career of Orieta (Malaga, 1868–Madrid, 1939), a man from an institutional background with Republican convictions, is indissolubly linked to the most outstanding cultural moments, enterprises and institutions of the first third of the twentieth century: he embodied the ideals and promoted brilliant initiatives of decisive importance to national heritage and culture.
His intellectual and public life was always associated with highly significant cultural symbols of those decades such as the intellectual avant-garde of Malaga (one of the most dynamic and innovative cities in the country), the Institución Libre de Enseñanza, the Residencia de Estudiantes, the Centro de Estudios Históricos and the Misiones Pedagógicas.
He developed a committed activism against the despoilment of the country’s heritage during the first decades of the century and revived the great Spanish Golden Age sculptors. With unflagging enthusiasm and a modern and democratic vision of heritage, from his post as Director General for Fine Arts in the Second Republic from 1931 to 1933 and in 1936 he defined the cultural aspects of the Constitution of 1931 and established a policy for protecting and publicly disseminating Spain’s treasures, monuments, artworks and museums, which ended in the passing of the law of 1933 on artistic heritage – Ley del Tesoro Artístico (1933) – one of the most advanced of its kind in Europe.