The Museo del Prado has one of the best and least known art libraries in Madrid. It specialises in painting and sculpture from the Middle Ages to the 19th century and also has important holdings of books on drawings, prints, classical sculpture and the decorative arts. The Library has 70,000 books, 1,000 periodical titles, as well as audiovisual works and manuscripts. It is particularly rich in foreign publications including exhibition catalogues, museum catalogues, monographs on artists etc, many of them hard to find in other Spanish libraries. The Library also has an important collection of auction catalogues.
The Museum makes considerable investments in the acquisition of new titles for the Library. The most significant additions are two important private libraries. This first is that of José María Cervelló (born Cadiz 1947) comprising around 10,000 volumes including a remarkable collection of classical treatises on art and architecture. The second is the library of the Daza-Madrazo family, consisting of around 1,000 books largely from the magnificent library of José de Madrazo (1781-1859), Painter to Ferdinand VII and Director of the Museo del Prado from 1838 to 1851. In addition, the Museum acquired by donation the library of the collector Antonio Correa consisting of 1,500 volumes and an interesting group of illustrated periodicals and books on Modernismo.
The Library occupies various floors in the Casón. Having entered via the vestibule on calle Alfonso XII, the user find the Reading Room and the open access reference library that occupies the former Salón de Baile with the ceiling painting by Luca Giordano. This floor also houses the user services rooms (information, facilities for making copies, computer terminals for consulting the catalogue etc) and internal offices. The book stores are located on Floors 0 and -1. These stores have been equipped with optimum environmental and security measures.
The Library is open to all those who need to use its holdings, with the only restriction being their correct conservation. Nonetheless, and due to its particular nature, the Library is primarily oriented towards researchers, firstly the technical staff of the Museum and future students of the Escuela del Prado. The library offer consultation facilities in the Reading Room, bibliographical information, and access to its electronic and copying facilities. Given that it is a specialist library, books are not loaned out although there is an inter-library loan service.
The Study Centre
The Action Plan approved in October 2004 envisaged the creation of a Study Centre and its installation in the Casón del Buen Retiro, within the proposed Prado Campus.
The re-modelling of the Casón allows for the Curatorial Departments, the Archive, Library and the Documentary holdings to be housed together. In addition, the Casón also house the Academic Chair of the Museo del Prado, which aims to be an international institution of the highest level. This project enable the Museum to fully implement its educational aims and aspirations, which have been present since its foundation.
The Academic Chair of the Museo del Prado
The Museum’s strength lies in its artistic and historical collections and its team of professionals, and together these elements constitute the pillars of the Academic Chair of the Museo del Prado, which bring together various initiatives focused on its dual mission of training and research. The first, which is aimed at specialist students, result in an increase in Museological studies, covering Restoration, Curatorship and Collection Management, as well as offer further studies for graduate students and high level training for professionals. The starting point for all these activities is the establishment of a grant programme for its first students.
With regard to the second aspect, that of research, the Academic Chairis count on the participation in the life of the Museum of Spanish and international scholars through collaborative programmes with other institutions and research fellowships, making the Centre’s facilities available for them to undertake research.
The activities of the Museum’s Curatorial departments and the programmes of the Academic Chair of the Museo Nacional del Prado occupy two floors of the Casón (Floors 1 and 2).
The Casón in the Prado Campus
On 20 October 2004, at a plenary session of the Royal Board of Trustees of the Museo del Prado, the Action Plan 2005-2008 was approved. The text of this Plan proposed concentrating the Museum’s Permanent Collection in the Villanueva-Jerónimos complex, integrating the display of the 19th-century collections into the historical collection for the first time. In addition, and as a key element in the so-called Prado Campus project, the Plan approved the creation of a Study Centre for the Museum which would be housed in the Casón del Buen Retiro.
In line with the concept approved in the Action Plan and following its inauguration in 2008, the Casón will be used in the following manner:
- Basement Level 1: Internal installations and services
- Ground Floor: Library, Archive and Documentary Centre
- Principal Floor: Reading Room of the Library
- Floor 1: Board Room, Curatorial Departments and the Escuela del Prado
- Floor 2: Curatorial Departments
Restoration work on the Casón was completed in October 2007.