Founders Donors

The founders of MUSABA, Nik & Hiske, are a close-knit and inseparable couple both in life and work. He is creative, imaginative, a great performer and she is also creative, but pragmatic with a management zen style of her own.


He adds, she subtracts.


In the creation of MUSABA there is and unquestionable high value testimony of the work of two artists whose images are inspired by the language of the local historical fragments; Nik Spatari is present in the creative phase with his projects and designs while Hiske Maas promotes, coordinates and implements the phases of these creations.
The reasons for an enterprise


Nik Spatari and Hiske Maas settled in Santa Barbara in 1970, returning to the region of Nik’s childhood experience. After having experienced the artistic European environments, they decided to work on a global project involving the production of art in the direct context of its historical points of reference and its natural surroundings. Nik and Hiske responded to the quest for an “integral” place, for a culture immersed and integrated with the environment, for a creativity etched on the earth herself. The MuSaBa initiative was largely inspired by a sense of rebellion against an environment dominated by cultural backwardness and hostile to any innovation. That is why the idea of promoting artistic activities in this area goes well beyond its mere cultural meaning.

The founders

The natural-positive philosophy of MuSaBa management gives value to the environmental and artistic resources that are rooted in history and architecture.


Nik Spatari is a painter, sculptor, architect, and craftsman: a Renaissance avant-garde artist. Spatari’s passion for great architecture and art took him to Paris in the fifties and sixties, where he associated with Le Corbusier’s studio and met Jean Cocteau. Nik had studied the ingenious creators of Pompeian frescos and the Etruscan underground structures, old masters such as Giotto, Masaccio, Leonardo, Michelangelo, and El Greco, and modern artists including Klee, Kandinsky, Nolde, Picasso, Dufy, Gaugin, Modigliani, and Max Ernst.
Spatari’s interest in architecture become his primary orientation, and this led him in 1969 to begin with Hiske Maas his ambitious project of creating a laboratory-school-museum in the Calabria region of southernmost Italy.


Hiske Maas is a rather unconventional manager who through collaboration and coordination harnesses Nik’s exuberant creativity towards concrete goals and develops seminars, workshops, apprenticeships, and cultural tourism. After attending the Art Academy in Amsterdam, she attended Schools in London, Lausanne, Paris, and New York before becoming an art dealer in Milan.
Looking for a new experience as they managed their art gallery “Studio Hiske” in Via Solferino in the heart of Brera, Milan, Hiske and Nik were captured by a stupendous site – today’s MuSaBa.
This is a story of passion and beauty, Calabria and the universe, colours and nature.
This is a story that began long, long ago – here stood ancient temples, Roman baths, medieval monasteries. Great artists have passed this way and here they have created their art – a story that looks into the future. It’s a laboratory that is endless, as light, imagination, wind and art are endless. “Universal harmonies” where shape, colour and energy are three-dimensional elements that make up a whole: water, air, fire depicted among spacious and fragmentary cosmic-terrestrial geometries and fields. Only Nik Spatari and Hiske Maas can tell the story of MUSABA, because it is they who invented, dreamed, planned and built it day after day, nourishing it with their dreams and their efforts.
Nik and Hiske. He is Calabrian, she is Dutch. So close and so distant. So different and so similar. They have been a couple for fifty years, since they decided to live together here in Santa Barbara, a plain overlooking the Ionian Sea, in the ancient heart of the Locride area. It was buried in brambles and neglect, and they turned it into Musaba, Calabria’s only open-air museum, one of the few in Europe which is also a laboratory of artistic experimentation and landscape protection. He is a painter, sculptor and architect: a precocious and irresistible talent, a self-taught artist formed by frequenting and collaborating with the great names of the twentieth century, from Picasso to Le Corbusier, Jean Cocteau to Max Ernst; she is in charge of organisation and communication. She is also an artist by vocation and training.
Rewinding the tape of memory, Hiske revisits her existential adventure using a singular unit of measurement. “My personal history is linked to art. I was born in a wonderful 17th century farmhouse, and I distinctly remember that even as a small child I was contrary. I grew up in a sporty family (sailing and hockey); I was fairly free but soon realised I had to escape from the usual course of the daughter of a wealthy family – university then a good marriage.
I had always drawn and painted, as well as reading a lot, and with the help of a cousin who was a filmmaker (and who persuaded my parents) I was able to go to the Academy of Fine Arts in Amsterdam. Wanting more, I moved first to the north of England and then to London, staying with families as an au pair while studying art. Later came Paris and Lausanne. Then New York. Completely independent, working and studying art, I learned a lot about life.
Nik: the early years, Lausanne and Paris. After winning the first international “Asse Roma-Tokyo-Berlino” art prize, at a very young age I came into contact with cosmopolitan circles in Europe and America, where I gained more awards and the attention of top critics, and above all became friends with the great names of the time, Jean Cocteau, Max Ernst, Sartre, Picasso and Le Corbusier.
Nik and Hiske met in Paris, and went to live in Milan, with a studio in Via Solferino and a gallery in Brera. Work, more work, exhibitions, recognition, world travel. In 1969, Calabria enters the story of Nik and Hiske, and they enter the story of Calabria. For him it’s a return, for her, a revelation, a new world, a challenge to leave everything behind. Nothing is easy, the place is beautiful but hostile, nature is violent but fascinating.


Starting with the “change your life” moment in 1969, we took on the challenge. A corrupt and violent environment. An abandoned site, the work required for the innovative restoration of the ancient structure, how to preserve its history and testimony to the past, while linking it to the present and contemporary. The creation of the 7-hectare Park with the monumental site-specific artworks, the restoration and architectural work on the former Calabra-Lucana station, the building of the Guest House and the new Wind Rose annex to the museum.