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The Museo del Prado presents the first official guide to its collection, sponsored by Telefónica Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Museo del Prado presents the first official guide to its collection, sponsored by Telefónica.

The Museo del Prado presents the first official guide to its collection, sponsored by Telefónica

The President of the Royal Board of Trustees of the Museum, Plácido Arango, accompanied by Luis Abril, Secretary General of the Board of Telefónica, Miguel Zugaza, Director of the Prado, and Gabriele Finaldi, Associate Director of Curatorship, today presented The Prado Guide. This is the first guide published by the Museum itself that offers a complete overview of its permanent collection, from classical sculpture to 19th-century painting, and features a selection of 400 works. The guide has been sponsored by Telefónica as part of its collaborative agreement with the Museum as Benefactor of the Prado’s Visitor Attention programme.

The presentation of the Guide coincides with the Museum’s announcement of the details of its forthcoming re-organisation and expansion of the permanent collection. This project forms part of its latest four-year Action Plan and is aimed at incorporating around 500 “new” works into the permanent display, which currently comprises around 1,000 works (including painting, sculpture and decorative works of art). This plan to increase the number of works on display, which has been given the name of “The other expansion”, is another of the major benefits that has accrued to the Museum from its recent architectural expansion. The latter has allowed for the freeing-up of the equivalent of 25 rooms from their previous functions, which can now be used for key areas of the Museum’s activities such as restoration, the technical department, stores, the photographic archive, and more. Most of these departments and services have now been moved to the new spaces designed by Rafael Moneo.

In addition, and coinciding with the gradual incorporation of works not previously included in the permanent display, the Museum has decided to re-hang all the permanent collection. This decision responds to the need to adapt the display to the new centralised entrance axis created as a result of the expansion, with the re-opening of the Velázquez Entrance and the connection between the new spaces and the Villanueva Building via this area. In the future visitors will thus be able to see an ordered arrangement that will combine the traditional ordering by chronology and school. It will start on the entrance floor with 14th- to 16th-century Flemish and Italian painting, will continue with 12th- to 16th-century Spanish painting and will continue on the first floor with 17th-century Spanish painting and 16th-to 17th-century European painting (Italian, Flemish and French). The north wing of the second floor will be used to display 17th-century Flemish, Dutch and Italian painting, while the south wing will have Goya’s cartoons and 18th-century Spanish painting. Works by Goya up to 1800 will continue to be displayed on the first floor. Following the area devoted to Goya’s late works on the access floor, the visit will end on the same axis on which it began, with galleries devoted to the Museum’s collection of 19th-century painting and sculpture, which will be included in the permanent display for the first time. These latter rooms will be re-opened this year when these 19th-century works are installed.

The collection of decorative works of art known as the “Dauphin’s Treasure” will continue to be displayed in the basement, while there is a new feature in the form of the so-called Ionic Galleries (with views over the Paseo del Prado). These galleries will come into use again as additional display space for the Museum’s sculpture collection, which can also be seen in its current space on the ground floor and in the Jerónimos Cloister.

The key role of Telefónica in the “New Prado”

The publication this month of the new official Guide to the Museum is a perfect example of the Prado’s commitment to achieving its dual aim of improving the presentation of its collections and making them more comprehensible to visitors. In this sense, the incorporation of Telefónica as a Benefactor Member of its Visitor Attention programme, which came about at the time of the opening of the expansion in October 2007, now becomes particularly significant. Just over a year later, the Museum has been able to realise its aspiration of providing appropriate and sufficiently large space to welcome the highest number of visitors yet seen in its entire history and to offer them new and improved services through Telefónica’s sponsorship. These services include audioguides, personal attention at all entrances to the building, cloakrooms, medical attention, a mother and baby room, and more. In addition and at the same time, the Museum has been able to embark on another major project, that of its new website, also launched in 2007 and again sponsored by Telefónica. The result has already proved itself in the spectacular increase in visits to the site, which currently even exceed visits to the Museum itself. The Museum’s website has gone from receiving an average of 3,000 visits a day in its previous edition to an average of 12,000 to date in 2009.

In the near future and as part of another of its priority projects entitled “An optimum experience of the Prado”, again set out in the Museum’s new Action Plan, it has been decided to continue with the strategy of not only improving the quality of visits to the Museum but also their intellectual quality. This strategy has the aim of reaching all sectors of the public through new initiatives such as audioguides aimed specifically at children, the introduction of new services based on the application of the new technologies such as the creation of a multimedia space that can be consulted prior to a visit, the training and assessment of the guides used by the Museum, the translation of educational and informational material into new languages (Japanese, Portuguese, Italian, German, etc), the use of sign-guides for visitors with hearing difficulties, and more.

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