As the pandemic receeds and the state of alarm in Spain comes to an end, more and more of Madrid´s rich cultural heritage is opening up to the public.
All of them with the necessary social distancing and safety measures in place, but now is the time to take advantage of no crowds to be able to see some of the finest art works in the world.
The centre stage is of course the Paseo del Arte and the golden triangle of Madrid´s three world class art museums – all now re-open to the public.
The Prado Museum, whose permanent collection is one of the great art treasure troves of the world. With its 7,600 paintings, 8,200 drawings, 4,800 prints and 1,000 sculptures, the Prado is the largest art museum in the country and probably the world. It is widely considered to have one of the world’s finest collections of European art, dating from the 12th century to the early 20th century. Highlights include works by Goya, Bosch, El Greco, Rubens, Titian, and Velázquez.
The Thyssen-Bornemisza is one of the world´s largest private collections with 1,600 paintings, and features heavily on works from the early English, Dutch and German schools as well as large number of important 18th and 19th century works. It is presently showing an exhibition of American painter, Georgia O’Keeffe’s running until the summer.
The Reina Sofía is Spain´s museum of 20th and 21st century art and features the country´s two art titans of the time being Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso whose masterpiece Guernica is a principal draw.
In addition the following it is also worthwhile to visit a number of other smaller and less well known museums in Madrid.
Situated close to the Paseo de Arte this museum which dates back over a century is modelled on the Victoria and Albert in London and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. It was intended as an educative space for artisans, craftsmen and artists. The oriental art collection is one of the highlights with decorative oriental art, including crockery (ceramics and porcelain), glassware and sculptures featuring.
The home and studio of the renowned Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (1863 – 1923), houses the largest collection of his works ( 1,200 paintings and drawings). It is one of the best preserved house-museums in Spain whilst landscaped garden ( also designed by him) is an oasis in a bustling city. The museum, which was opened in 1932, retains its original decor as well as his many aquisitions during his life of sculptures, ceramics, clothes, jewellery, letters and photographs.
One of Madrid´s hidden gems as well as one of the city´s most important museums. Located in what used to be the stately home of the 17th Marquis of Cerralbo, the museum is a 19th centrury aristocratic family time piece decorated in a Neo-Baroque and Rococo style and designed to be both home and a museum.
The house includes some 50,000 works including paintings, sculptures, ceramics, glass, tapestry, furniture, coins, medals, drawings, stamps, clocks, weapons and armour.
The former palace of the Marquis of Matallana, built in 1776, houses a fascinating collection of 19th-century paintings, furniture and decorative art which captures the essence of the cultural, political and everyday life of Madrid of his lifetime.
Works by Goya,Esquivel, Madrazo, Alenza and the Bécquer brothers, ceramics from Sargadelos and Sèvres, a collection of porcelain dolls, 15 pianos, imperial and Isabelline furniture, and even the pistol Larra used to commit suicide allow the visitor to be immersed in the Romantic period as well as the magical landscaped Magnolia Garden.
One of Spain´s greatest writers from its 17th century golden age, the museum is his house situated in the Las Letras quarter in Madrid´s old town and where he lived from 1610 until his death in 1635.
The museum includes the reconstructed studio and oratory which include paintings, furniture,books and kitchenware belonging to the writer. Outside the peaceful back garden or ‘mi güertecillo,’ as Lope used to call it is open to visitors.
Period plays are performed in the house during the evening summer months which recreate the spirit of Lope de Vega’s time and the Golden Age of Spanish art and literature.
Dating back to 1720, this institution is dedicated to the artisanal production of tapestries, carpets and coats of arms. The works produced can be seen displayed in all the palaces belonging to the Spanish Crown.
The museum exhibits an important collection of carpets and tapestries including some of the most important pieces made in Spain including The Acts of the Apostles, woven in 17th century Flanders and works based on designs by leading Spanish painters such as Goya and Juan Gris.
A huge stately mansion and former home of one of Spain´s riches men, the Lázaro Galdiano Museum houses an exquisite collection of works of art. Paintings by Goya, El Greco, Zurbarán and Hieronymus Bosch abound as well as bronze figures, ceramics, glassware, textiles, medals and weapons of great value.
Lázaro Galdiano was a prolific art collector as well as a bibliophile. He gathered singular documents like letters written by Lope de Vega and many medieval manuscripts. The library of the Lázaro Galdiano Foundation is open for researchers only, but a selection of its holdings can be seen in temporary exhibitions at the museum.
The establishment of a Royal Academy of Fine Arts was first proposed by painter Antonio Meléndez, who suggested the idea in 1726 to king Philip V for the creation of an Academy of Arts for design, painting, sculpture and architecture to showcase the finest work of the then Spanish Empire.
Today, the Museum at the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts houses over 1,400 paintings, 600 sculptures and 15,000 drawings, as well as an outstanding collection of decorative arts objects including tapestries, silverware, ceramics, porcelain, clocks, furniture and medals.
Among the many jewells in the muesum are the permanent collection which include 13 of Francisco de Goya´s most important work such as two self-portraits, the Corrida de Toros (Bullfight), the portraits of Moratín, Juan de Villanueva, the actress La Tirana and the Carnival scene known as the Entierro de la Sardina (Burial of the Sardine).