The new building has provided the Museum with the rooms and installations that it needed both for housing one of the greatest collections of art world-wide and for its curatorial activities, as well as for its external functions relating to the public that visits the Museum and uses its services. The extension has also involved the re-opening of the main entrance of the Villanueva building, known as the Velázquez Entrance. This connects to the new area through the great basilical hall, which now functions as a lobby and circulation space for visitors arriving to see the collection. Alongside it, two new entrances lead into a spacious vestibule that connects the two buildings and houses the principal visitor facilities as well as the new shop and cafeteria.
Furthermore, the Museum’s exhibition programme and other cultural activities have now greatly expanded due to the addition of new spaces, including new galleries for temporary exhibitions and a new, modern auditorium/lecture theatre. The presence of an additional entrance leading into the vestibule created by the extension will allow visitors to enjoy additional activities during the Museum’s opening hours.
A sizeable proportion of the new building will be used to house the departments and services of the Museum dedicated to the conservation and handling of its collections (restoration studios, laboratories, a prints and drawings area and stores for works of art not on public display). This “second extension” means that more of the permanent collection can be placed on display, while key departments of the Museum, such as the Education Department, will have more adequate facilities.