Fachada principal del Museo del Prado
Museo Nacional del Prado, the building

Let’s start with an article that allows us to know with a little history, the origins of the Museo Nacional del Prado, the building, one of the most important Art Centers in the world.

 The building that houses the Prado Museum is the work of Juan de Villanueva, a project that was approved by king Carlos III in 1786, and that together with the Royal Botanical Garden formed the architectural complex that was named the Hill of Sciences, because it was originally going to be used as a Science Museum.

It was built during the reigns of Carlos III and Carlos IV.

The Napoleonic invasion caused the building to fall into decay, being used for military purposes.

The history of the Prado Museum continues with Ferdinand VII when he ordered the restoration of the building and in 1819 it was inaugurated as the Royal Museum of Paintings, and housed mainly the royal collection, limiting the exhibition space to three rooms.

2019 was the bicentennial

Therefore, 2019 was the bicentennial of the institution.

To learn more about the historical and architectural aspects of the main building of the Museo del Prado, I recommend watching the video made by the museum itself in which Pedro Moleón Gavilanes, a professor at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, an authority on the subject and author of publications on Juan de Villanueva and the museum building itself (in Spanish):

Profesor Pedro Moleón Gabilanes

The majority of the Prado’s works come from the royal collection that has been growing for centuries.

The majority of the works come from the royal collection

In addition to all this, there are those from the Trinity Museum, formerly the Trinity Convent. These pieces come from the disentailment of Mendizabal.

It consisted of a series of expropriations of Church property carried out by the liberals in the 19th century.

These expropriations meant that the ownership of a large number of works of art found in churches, monasteries and convents became National Property.

Many of these works have ended up in the Prado collection.

The rest of the museum’s heritage comes from acquisitions.

Museo del Prado, fachada lateral
Side facade

During the 19th century and a good part of the 20th century, the State hardly provided any resources to the institution, making its management extremely difficult.

The arrival of the 1960s brought with it a great expansion of tourism on an international level, which highlighted the enormous shortages and lack of space at the Prado National Museum.

In 2007 the extension was inaugurated, doubling its exhibition capacity

In the 1990s, Rafael Moneo was awarded the contract to expand el Museo Nacional del Prado, which was inaugurated in 2007, doubling the exhibition capacity.

The name of the Prado Museum comes from having been built in what was called Prado de los Jerónimos.

Access the museum’s website here

Tickets can be obtained at this link from the museum itself: access

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