The Museo Nacional del Prado was originally home to King Charles III’s Natural History Cabinet in 1785 in a building which he commissioned architect Juan de Villanueva to construct. However it was not until Charles’ grandson Ferdinand VII and his wife Queen María Isabel de Braganza chose to exhibit the Royal Museum of Paintings and Sculptures in the same building, that it was then renamed the National Museum of Painting and Sculpture and eventually came into being as the Museo Nacional del Prado.
Besides exhibiting the royal collection, another aim was to show the importance and relevance of Spanish art in comparison to other European art. With the establishment of the Museum, the first catalogue published in 1819 included 311 Spanish paintings. The collection increased during the 16th century.
Additionally, when the Museo del la Trinidad closed in 1872, and the Museo de Arte Moderno closed in 1971, their collections were added to the Prado. Key works such as the two Majas by Goya were added, while many bequests have added depth to the collection.
Museum's Conservation Department:
Famed Artworks in Collection:
The Museo Nacional del Prado is world renowned for its supreme collection of European paintings and sculptures from the 12th to the 19th Centuries. With a collection of 7,600 paintings, 1,000 sculptures, 8,200 drawings, and thousands of prints, it is not possible to display the collection in its entirety. Presently, less than 1,000 works are on view in the main building, while over 3,000 works are on loan to other cultural institutions and the rest of the collection is in storage.
Famous artworks in the collection include paintings by the Spanish Masters: Velasquez, Zurbaran, el Greco, Goya, and Picasso. The highlight of the collection is Velasquez's phenomenal painting Las Meninas.
Other notable masterpieces include paintings such as Hieronymous Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights, Dürer’s Self-Portrait, Ruben’s The Three Graces, Tintoretto’s Christ Washing the Disciples’ Feet, Goya’s The Family of Charles IV, Rogier van der Weyden’s The Descent from the Cross, and Mantegna’s The Death of the Virgin.
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Museum's Contact Info:
Museo Nacional del Prado, Paseo del Prado s/n. Madrid, 28014 Spain, Tel. +34 91 330 2800
Metro: Banco de España and Atocha stations.
Museum Hours: From Tuesday to Sunday: 9am – 8pm (including holidays); Closed: On Mondays throughout the year (including holidays) and January 1, Good Friday, May 1, and December 25.