Museums in Madrid
Art Galleries and museums in Madrid
Madrid holds some of the best museums in the world. Most of them are located near the city centre and not far from each other.
Museo Reina Sofía
Of the Madrid Art Triangle, the Reina Sofia Museum is the best to get to know the avant-garde movement and the art of the second half of the XX century. The expansion of the museum in 2005 gave the structure a better view, more rooms such as a cafeteria and newer and bigger stores. The museum is in what used to be the old San Carlos Hospital, a building built back at the end of XVIII.
The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia is one of the most important of Madrid. It offers the visitor an extent collection of Spanish modern art pieces. Founded in 1992, the Reina Sofia Museum continues the periods that the Prado doesn’t, starting from 1881, the year of Pablo Picasso’s birth.
This museum offers the visitor pieces of art from important Spanish painters such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Joan Miro. The most famous piece of the museum is the Guernica of Picasso.
If you want to visit the museum, you will need a few hours because the museum is truly vast. The curious ones will need around one to two hours to visit the most important parts of the museum and to see the main art pieces.
The Nouvel extension holds the temporary expositions and pieces belonging to the end of the XX century. The Sabatini buildings, with big panoramic elevators, holds all of the permanent collections. A part from the indispensable Guernica, you should stop and appreciate Picasso’s preparatory sketches of the Guernica, as well as the surrealist collection, Dali and some of the Spanish artists of the end of the XX century like Luis Gordillo, Pablo Palazuelo and the Equipo Crónica.
Advice: It is recommended to go early because the lines form quickly, especially if there are temporary expositions. Before ending your visit, you shouldn’t forget to go up to the terrace and appreciate the views of Atocha and Lavapies.
How to get there: It is at the Atocha metro stop on line 1. There are also parkings nearby that you can use, or you can take the bus given that a lot of the lines pass in front of the museum. It is found in a privileged area, close to other big museums like the Thyssen and the Prado.
It opens every day from 10 am to 9 pm except for Tuesdays. On Sunday the museums are only open during the mornings.
Museo del Prado
The Prado Museum is an absolute must if you come to Madrid. The museum has its own web page that gives you recommendations on what you can visit in one, two or three hours as there are so many collections to visit that it can be hard to choose.
This way, depending on the time you have to visit the Museo del Prado, 15, 30 and 50 paintings have been selected that go through the name of the some of the most famous painters, exceptional silversmith pieces and statues.
Before beginning your visit, you should start by marking the rooms on one of the free maps that are given to you at the entrance to avoid getting lost and make the most of the experience without going around and around in circles. You can also rent an audio guide and click on each number section 1/2/3 hours in the museum.
The Museo Del Prado is one of the main tourist sites of the city of Madrid and you should not pass it up. You can see masterpieces of the Spanish, Italian and Flemish schools.
At the Prado, you can enjoy art pieces of European masters like La Anunciacion by Fra Angelico, El Lavatorio by Tintoretto, El Descendimiento by Roger Van Der Weyden, El Jardin de las Delicias del Bosco or Las tres Gracias de Rubens; along with other key pieces from the Spanish school like Las Meninas by Velazquez, El Sueno de Jacob de Ribera and Los fusilamientos by Goya.
This museum is exceptionally well organized. “Las Meninas” (1656) by Velazquez is the best example; from any angle that you look at it, the painting is perfect.
On top of the permanent collection, you should look out for the temporary expositions, although a lot of them have hours of waiting in line. You should be aware that the guides standing at the entrance are not official and the ticket office doesn’t know if they are good, bad, cheap or expensive.
Entry prices for the museum: Costs 14€ and is free from 6 to 8pm. But it does have different prices for families and association members.
Museum hours: Monday to Saturday from 10am to 8pm. Sunday and holidays from 10am to 7pm. The museum is closed the 1st of January, 1st May and the 25th of December. Days of reduced opening hours: 6th January, 24th and 31st of December from 10am to 2pm.
Museo Thyssen Bornemisza
The Thyssen Museum is located in the notorious “art triangle” of Madrid on the Paseo del Prado. It is one of the fundamental places to visit if you are an art lover. This art gallery is filled with over 1000 art pieces, a lot of which pertaining to the Thyssen-Bornemisza family’s extensive private collection.
In 1993, the Spanish government decided to buy the collection so the general public could enjoy the beautiful paintings, transferring these extraordinary collections into the Palacio Villahermosa after its reconstruction done by the famous Spanish architect Rafael Moneo.
The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum gives the public a stroll through art, from the XIII century until the end of the XXth. The visitor will be able to contemplate the main pieces from the periods and schools such as the Renaissance, Mannerism, Baroque, Roccoco, Romanticism, art of the XIX and XX century and Pop Art. You can see art movements that are not shown in other museums such as Impressionism, Fauvism, German Expressionism and the vanguards of the beginning of the XX century. You can also see the large North American painting collection of the XX century, one which is unique in Europe.
On a second note, above its panoramic character, the collections of the of the Thyssen Museum gives us a taste of the likings and the preferences of their two principal owners, the Barons Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza (1875-1947) and Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza (1921-2002).
Educated in the Central European artistic tradition, both paid special attention to the genre of portraiture and landscape. This is evident in the paintings of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum which are different from the current religious and historical paintings in other Spanish museums. Since 2004, the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection belongs to part of the museum which has over two hundred paintings, thus completing the styles and genres already present in the Permanent Collection.
In addition to preserving the collection of the Barons, the museum designed an area for education purposes, to learn the values of art in an entertaining way called "Educate Thyssen", a cafe with a modern design and an art shop where you can find great variety of collectibles motif inspired by the works of the collections. Notably, the museum not only preserves the art work but also believes in spreading the culture not only in Spain but around the world.
Another important point is that this museum hosts annual temporary exhibitions thanks to the support from private collectors and synergies between worldwide renowned museums.
Hours: Every day from 10am to 7pm expect Mondays which only opens from 12pm to 4pm.
If you are interested by art and museums and you plan to visit Barcelona, we recommend you visit our section with Barcelona's top museums