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Culture
Museo de America

Established in 1941, the Museo de America (Museum of America) was created in order to combine and unite artistic, archaeological, and ethnographic collections pertaining to the Americas within the possession of the Spanish government. The 25,000 objects, mainly from Central and South America, comprising the collection serve to provide a cohesive viewpoint of the Americas from the Paleolithic to present day, with subcategories of Pre-Columbian, Colonial, and Ethnology.

The permanent collection seeks to highlight the complexity of the history and contemporary society of the Americas through a distinctly anthropological approach. Five areas of study—Knowing about America, The Reality of America, Society, Religion, and Communication—help to compartmentalize the collection in order to enhance the visitor’s understanding and study of the artifacts. The entire collection offers a glimpse of the numerous societies that were and are still located within the Americas.

Although the building from the outside may seem small, don’t let that fool you. Upon entering and beginning your visit you will soon realize the substantial inventory of the museum. The two floors that house the collection and wrap around a lovely central garden, host a variety of intriguing objects, including textiles and clothing, a large collection of gold figurines from the Quimbaya civilization (a people well regarded for their astounding and immaculate gold work), a mummy dating to the first century B.C., and the historically significant Casta Paintings of Imperial Spain (depicting the first racial laws ever written into edict). Be sure to take a moment to explore the Communication area as it highlights the numerous languages of the Americas and offers the opportunity to take in the incredible writing styles of the ancient civilizations.

Aside from the permanent collection the museum hosts a variety of educational activities—tours, workshops, conferences, seminars—as well as cultural—dance, theater, and music. A number of the activities are family friendly and specifically targeted toward children. In order to learn more the museum’s website has an entire section dedicated to information concerning its upcoming activities, as well as provides a monthly program you can consult.

Sundays are free entry.

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

The massive complex that comprises the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and its expansive collection is one in which the visitor can easily lose themselves in for an entire day. Commonly called El Reina Sofia, the museum's massive main building is comprised of four main floors ranging in content and exhibitions. The housed collection is predominantly dedicated to Spanish art produced within the early 20th century to the present, yet the museum offers a variety of exhibitions from both international and national artists. 

This museum is not for the light of heart or for the easy-going art lover. El Reina Sofia 's collection is dense and comprised of artwork intended to be thought provoking and engaging. At the core of the museum's content is its mission to transform the traditional museum space into one that is integrated and fused with the public sphere and thus seeks to redefine society’s relation to the museum. With such a mission, El Reina Sofia seeks to host art which is supplementary to creating a space of shared wisdom that all can partake in as well as art that is supportive of generating interactions between various sectors of society and thus helping to establish a network of partnerships throughout the community. Those visiting El Reina Sofia will do much more than just take-in artistic styles and masterpieces, but will in addition encounter a new way of experiencing the museum.

The art chosen to be apart of El Reina is meant to question the institutionalized norms of daily life. And it is through its bold art collection, the mission statement of El Reina shines through to the visitor. Having an understanding of Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía's mission will prove to be very useful in your visit and will greatly increase your ability to interact with the museum’s collections and exhibits. For a more cohesive reading of the museum's mission, the museum's official website offers a detailed explanation of its objectives in its Mission Statement.

The being said, visitors of El Reina Sofia will be exposed to a great variety in artistic styles. Beyond traditional art forms, the exhibits and collection of the museum utilize lighting, audio, videography, literature, and models to enhance the visitor's experience. El Reina Sofia is also home to an expansive collection including works of art from the schools of Surrealism, Avant-Garde, Cubism, and Dada. Works of art produced by Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Óscar Domínguez, André Masson, and many more are plentiful throughout the collection.

The museum’s most famous and most controversial work of art is Pablo Picasso’s Guernica. The massive mural-like painting is considered Picasso’s most powerful political statement as he painted it in protest to the Nazi’s bombing tests on the Basque town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War after receiving approval from Spain’s soon to be fascist dictator, General Francisco Franco. If visiting El Reina Sofia, seeing this work of art is a must and will most certainly leave you feeling moved.

In order to best navigate the museum, its website offers a detailed directory of its collections and exhibits. It is highly recommended to take time before your visit to look over this information in order to prepare for what can seem an overwhelming experience as well as to make sure you get the opportunity to see pieces you are particularly interested in amidst the enormous collection. Also to help further your understanding of artistic styles, social contexts, and the purpose behind each collection/exhibit are either wall inscriptions or information cards placed at the entrance of each room – it is highly recommended you utilize these sources of information.

There is a coat check area at the entrance. Considering the amount of time it may take you to walk through the entire complex, the fee associated with it may be well worth it.

Museo Sorolla

The Museo Sorolla is a lesser-known, smaller, yet more intimate museum dedicated to the paintings and objects belonging to Joaquín Sorolla Bastida (27 February 1863 – 10 August 1923). Sorolla was a native of Valencia, but at the age of 18 moved to Madrid to study at the Museo del Prado. His art career spanned from the time he was 9 until he suffered a stroke while painting in his garden at his home in Madrid. For almost 50 years Sorolla produced highly popular paintings of personal as well as historically and socially conscious matter. He excelled at portraiture as well as landscapes and was well known for his reproduction of natural light in his paintings. He travelled the entirety of Europe for commissions, however he often gave his native land loving preference in his work. His maturity as an artist marked him as a master of naturalism and impressionism.

The Museo Sorolla houses a number of paintings of a personal matter to the painter, with his wife and children posing as the subject matter for a number of the paintings. However, also featured throughout are two of Sorolla’s most impressive and socially conscious paintings Trata de Blancas and Una Investigacion. Also, housed throughout the exhibit are paintings of Sorolla’s native Valencia and the gardens of the palaces of Granada and Sevilla.

Perhaps the most charming aspect of the museum space is that it is housed within the once living establishment of the artist and his family. Upon the widow Sorolla’s death the home and it’s adjacent gardens were converted into the museum space and Sorolla’s studio and exhibition space have been largely left untouched, besides the addition of paintings, so as to give the visitor a true sense of Sorolla’s daily life. The gardens, though small, are especially nice to stroll around or take a few moments to sit amongst the Moorish and Classical designs. The upstairs of the home is used for temporary exhibits.

Museo Nacional del Prado

The Museo Nacional del Prado, Prado for short, houses one of the most cohesive and refined collections of European art dating from the 12th century to the early 19th century, as well as the single most consolidated collection of Spanish art. It is considered to be one of the greatest museums of art and as such it is one on the most visited art museums in the world. Located within short walking distance to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and Museo Reina Sofia, it comprises the Golden Triangle of Art in conjunction with the other two museums.

The entire collection contains about 7,600 paintings, 1,000 sculptures, 4,800 prints and 8,200 drawings, as well as numerous other forms of art and historical documents. Of that about 1,300 masterpieces are displayed within the main building for viewing, with the rest either being in storage or on loan to other museums. However, despite the seemingly limited selection made available for viewing, the viewable collection is in fact massive in size and can take hours upon hours to view it in its entirety. The ground floor alone can take just under two hours to make your way through the impressive display of 12th century to 16th century altar pieces, religious paintings, restored frescoes and roofs, and Roman marble sculptures, just to name a few items. Highlights of the museum’s displayed masterpieces are from Francisco de Goya, Diego Velasquez, Hieronymus Bosch, Rogier van der Weyden, Rafael, and countless others.

The recent addition of a new wing has expanded the space and is currently being used to showcase temporary exhibits.

Meticulous efforts have been taken to display the collection in a manner most complementary to the masterpieces, achieving a much-appreciated fluidity throughout what could be a very overwhelming museum. In addition, information panels within each room help to clarify the context of the featured works of art and their relations to greater themes in the art world. It is highly suggested visitors take the time to read these panels, as they will greatly enhance the visit.

To assist visitors in making the most out of their visits in the allotted time they have, the museum’s official website has pre-planned routes throughout the museum on the 1-hour, 2-hour, and 3-hour time frames that guide visitors to the museum’s major masterpieces. Also available at the information desk are pamphlets in a variety of languages with maps and locations of the museum’s most prestigious works of art.

The museum does offer free entry to the permanent collection for all visitors every Monday through Saturday from 18:00 to 20:00, and Sundays and holidays from 17:00 to 19:00. These times are the museum’s busiest hours. In forewarning, if you choose to visit during these times, a line at the entrance is inevitable as well as when viewing the museum’s most popular works of art.

Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

Along with the Museo del Prado and the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza completes a trifecta of one of the world’s most cohesive and respected groupings of art galleries. The three art galleries located within walking distance of each other on Madrid’s main boulevard, Paseo del Prado, comprise a Golden Triangle of Art that creates a lively area that has enhanced the cultural activity of the city and makes it a world-wide destination.

Unlike it’s two predecessors of the Paseo del Prado, the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Thyssen for short, is not a national art museum, but rather is host to one of the world’s most renowned private collections of art. The museum’s collection of art complements the other two galleries as it fills historical gaps in the collections of the Prado and El Reina Sofia. The private origin of the collection sets the Thyssen apart from the other two museums as its collection is much more diverse and lacking of any agenda other than the pursuit of showcasing the spectacular collection, making it available for the viewing pleasure of the world’s population. For this reason, many visitors find the three-storied Thyssen to be the most manageable and enjoyable of the three art museums.

Located within the 19th century Villahermosa Palace, the Thyssen houses over 1,600 paintings produced by some of the world’s most respected masters of art spanning over seven centuries. Within the museum are two permanent collections, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection and the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection. The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection was acquired by the Spanish state in 1993. The permanent collection contains pieces dating as far back as the 13th century up to the 1980s, displaying an extensive collection with works of art in the Italian Primitive, Renaissance, Baroque, the Dutch school, Modernism, Cubism, Pop Art, European post-war figurative, and number of other styles. The Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection was loaned as an extension to the permanent collection by the Baroness and since 2004 has been on display at the Thyssen in the hopes of avoiding divisions within the overall collection, allowing the public to views a special collection of masterpieces, and to observe cohesion throughout the entire collection. The Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection contains works of art from the 17th to 20th centuries and provides a special focus on Spanish art, although also features works from the 17th century Italian and Dutch schools, Impressionism, and German Expressionism and Fauvism.

Despite the expansive and seemingly all-inclusive collections, the museum lacks the intensity present in both the Prado and El Reina Sofia and rather is a delight to walk through. The Thyssen offers a seemingly endless number of canvases with a seemingly endless number of opportunities of losing yourself in masterful art.

Museo ABC de Dibujo e Ilustración

If you are a lover of architecture and art, then a visit to Madrid’s Museo ABC de Dibujo e Ilustración (ABC Museum of Drawing and Illustration), Museo ABC for short, is a must for you. 

Originally built at the turn of the 20th century to house the first Mahou beer factory in the capital, the building has been renovated into a work of architectural art itself. Boasting three above ground floors and one underground gallery, the structure celebrates both its contemporary and historical uses. The top floor offers a wonderful skyline view of Madrid’s main thoroughfare, Gran Via. You can enjoy a snack or beverage within the museum’s cafeteria, situated on a hovering bridge offering wide views of the street, surrounding buildings, and the museum’s plaza. If you are lucky you may find the cafeteria’s glass walls have been transformed into an artist’s canvas. The entrance to the museum opens to the museum’s expansive store-library space, where one can sit and enjoy any of the for sale books filled with intriguing illustrations, take part in an interactive drawing activity, or begin to enjoy the museum’s large collection of exhibited drawings and illustrations. 

The museum contains 200,000 drawing and illustrations from 1,500 different artists and is home to the Colección ABC of the major Spanish national newspaper ABC. Founded in 1903, ABC has a long history covering Spain’s national and international news highlighted by the illustrations and drawings in the collection. There are no permanent exhibits, so any return visits hold the promise of seeing something new.

The museum offers education programs for students ranging from primary to secondary school, as well as workshops for exhibition visitors. Utilization of the museum’s website by visitors to stay update on all activities, exhibits, and collections offered by Museo ABC is highly recommended.

Guided visits are available by appointment.

National Museum of Archeology : Welcome to a state-of-the-art museum

One has to admit, unless you're a passionate, archeology museums are often dusty, boring and filled with relics of the past you almost instantly forget about once you hit the street. You wouldn’t spend your Sunday there, and certainly not drag your kids to it.
The NAM (National Archeology Museum) was one of those before it was fully renovated. But when it reopened last April, it left its visitors speechless. Nobody had ever seen such a display of modernism at an archeology museum.
The place was entirely refurbished by an architect and is now spacious, full of light with an inviting display of glass cases. Information is made accessible thanks to 18 remarkable short movies allowing a playful learning process to any visitor. Drawings help understand how tools were being used in the past, and all explanation boards are short and precise.
With such a successful display of collections, you just want to go back as soon as you’ve left the place!