The Museums in the Spanish Capital are a delight. Few cities in the world have such collections of valuable art. An area just east of the Old City is home to the best museums in Madrid, a district known as Paseo del Arte, ‘’the Art Walk.’’ Each has some time in the week when admission is free so with planning, visiting is as cheap as it gets. Museo del Prado has a fine art collection while Reina Sofía National Museum and Art Center specialty is modern art. The third that you must see, especially if you are interested in the ‘’Old Masters’’ is Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum of Art where you will find masterpieces from such as Monet, Goya, Renoir and Degas as well as Picassos. Spain was a formidable naval power and the Naval Museum is interesting while a further private museum is the Caixa Forum with its art and culture exhibits.
The Prado museum
is one of the most well-known and splendid art galleries of the world. The museum takes its name from the street where it is located: “Prad". The story of this vast museum of Madrid started when the Spanish Queen visited the Louvre Museum in Paris. Since she was quite impressed by Louvre museum, she decided to build one in Madrid.
Museo Nacional del Prado is housed in a building originally built in 1785 to hold the Natural History Cabinet. This was the time of Charles II but it was his grandson, Ferdinand VII and his wife Maria Isabel de Braganza who decided to make it the National Museum of Paintings and Sculptures and subsequently gave it the name it holds today. When it opened in 1819, it had just over 300 paintings though there were a further 1,200 in royal ownership. It had been Charles V who had instigated the acquiring of art in the 16th Century. The number of exhibits increased through the 19th Century which paintings were coming from the Museo de la Trinidad, the Colegio de Dona Maria de Aragon and the Museo de Arte Moderno. Over the years there have been donations, purchases and bequests so that there are now well over 2,300 exhibits to see today.
Reina Sofia Museum
The Reina Sofia
is an art museum located in Madrid, Spain. It is one of the main places to visit in Madrid. The building of the museum was built in the 18th century. The most famous masterpiece in the museum is Pablo Picasso’s “Guernica” which is one of the most renowned paintings of the 20th century.
When the Reina Sofia building as first completed is was to use as a hospital and it was not until 1992 that it was converted into a museum. It added to the art treasures that could be displayed for the pleasure of visitors to Madrid. It’s modern remodeling involved adding two glass lifts on the outside of the building. In 2005, the architect Jean Nouvel designed an extension and the completed building was officially called the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. It received many of its exhibits from the nearby Prado and hence could claim to be an important center for contemporary and modern art. There are four floors in the Museum, two for temporary exhibitions and the other two displaying paintings categorized as Abstract, Pop or Minimalist. Arguably its most famous painting is Picasso’s ‘’Guernica’’ which hung in a New York Gallery until 1981 to follow the artist’s wishes that it should not be shown in Spain until democracy was restored.
Despite the fact that it is small, Thyssen Bornemisza Museum
is part of the golden art triangle, together with the Prado and the Reina Sofia museum. This museum, which used to be the most prominent painting collection in the world after the Royal Collection of England, was bought by the Spanish Government and started being exhibited with its artworks from 17th century.
The Thyssen Bornemisza Museum has certainly benefitted from its proximity to the Prado and the Reina Sofia but there are significant exhibits that demand attention of their own. They are housed in a neo-classical mansion dating from 1806. It was the home of Baron Thyssen Bornemisza who together with his son, Hans Heinrich gathered together an extremely valuable art collection, initially for their own enjoyment. The result is that it provides an excellent history of Western art from the early Flemish and Italian scene to 20th Century Pop Art. The mansion was bought by the State in 1993 and now forms an impressive trio of museums near the Old City. There have been several additions to the original collection with several international purchases now on display. Visitors who walk around this museum as well as the nearby Reina Sofia and Prado will leave Madrid with their minds full of art and a greater appreciation of the subject.