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The Garden of Earthly Delights by Bosch is “reunited” with visitors at the Museo del Prado Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Room 56 A of the Villanueva Building, devoted to Jheronimus Bosch but closed since the Covid-19 crisis led to the temporary closure of the Museum, has reopened. Visitors can now see a new display that offers a clearer vision of the works and an optimal use of space.

The gallery is also enhanced with a professional monitor that presents an animated sequence of surprising details of the works, some shown up to 12 times their original size.

The Garden of Earthly Delights by Bosch is “reunited” with visitors at the Museo del Prado

With the support of Samsung as a Technology Sponsor, the Museo Nacional del Prado has reopened its gallery devoted to Jheronimus Bosch with a new installation that marks a radical rethinking from a technical viewpoint. New supports have been designed and made for three of the triptychs and the gallery now has a table-case, a new lighting system, new graphics and a screen which shows enlarged details of the works.

In 2016 the temporary exhibition on Jheronimus Bosch held at the Museum saw more than 600,000 visitors, breaking a new record for the Prado. In 2019 the Bosch gallery had more than 7,000 visitors a day, totally 2.5 million in a year. The audio guide commentary on The Garden of Earthly Delights is one of the five most listened to by visitors, only after Las Meninas, while during the Covid-19 lockdown the most watched video in the online programme #PradoContigo was the live one on the painting, which had 1,344,240 hits on Instagram. In the light of this data the Museum set out to respond to the enormous interest in this gallery and this new installation optimises the space and improves the viewing experience of the works.

While the paintings remain in the same locations within the gallery, some formal aspects of the previous installation needed updating and improving. For this reason the display has been modified to gain more circulation space for visitors, improve the accessibility of the works, individualise the lighting of the different triptychs to enhance the overall viewing experience of all the paintings on display and take into account the requirements deriving from the implementation of the Emergency Protection of Collections Plan.

Innovations to improve the visitor experience

The reduction in the size of the supports, which are now more aesthetically attractive, allows for increased circulation space for visitors, creating more space between the paintings on display and thus enhancing the experience of looking at them.

The new graphics provide information on Bosch’s works in the form of individual explanatory texts for each work and an extensive introductory text which introduces the artist in person by including his signature at the end.

Designing specific lighting for each triptych has improved the overall perception of the works on display, with particular attention paid to achieving a correct viewing of the reverse of the lateral panels. This was a considerable technical challenge due to the limitation of the angle of the fall of light.

The new wall colour, which is a darker green than the previous one, emphasises the graphics and the tones of the paintings and interacts more with the lighting.

In addition, the room has a 65” Samsung professional monitor which shows an animated sequence of surprising details of the works on display, some shown up to 12 times their original size.

Preventative conservation and security measures

The new display combines technical solutions that improve accessibility for the installation and dismounting of the works by the Prado’s art handlers with the implementation of the requirements stipulated in the Emergency Collections Protection Plan covering security measures in situ and evacuation procedures. This latter aspect is a pioneering initiative in terms of the design and manufacture of multi-risk, individualised protective covers (against water, fire, dust, smoke, etc) which can be installed in an operation that takes a maximum of 2.5 minutes. These are combined with stabilisation bases for the triptychs, which have been designed to significantly reduce the time required to remove the works to a safe place in the case of an emergency.