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The Museo Nacional del Prado pays tribute to its own history with a permanent installation Tuesday, March 16, 2021

This new display, produced with the collaboration of Samsung, offers visitors a survey of the more than 200-year history of Spain’s leading cultural institution while also enhancing the quality of the museum’s discourse.

Curated by Víctor Cageao, Director of Buildings and the Natural Environment at Patrimonio Nacional and formerly General Coordinator of Programming at the Museo del Prado, with the support of the documentalist Teresa Prieto, this display occupies Rooms 100, 101 and 102 (all original spaces by Villanueva) which have been completely remodelled according to a design by the architect Desirée González.

Among the 265 items on display are more than 50 photographs, including numerous early ones, 9 architectural models, documents, postcards, prints, plans and objects from the everyday life of the museum which together introduce visitors to the Prado’s more than 200 years of history. Particularly notable exhibits record the appointment of Picasso as Director of the Museum; the award of the Princess of Austurias Prize to the Museum in 2019; a poster with the prices of entry tickets from the 1920s; and a cupboard with old restoration tools and equipment.

The Museo Nacional del Prado pays tribute to its own history with a permanent installation

Marina Chinchilla, Deputy Management Director of the Museo Nacional del Prado; Miguel Falomir, Director of the Museo Nacional del Prado; Ick Soo Choi, President Samsung Iberia; Javier Solana, Head of the Board of Trustees of the Museo Nacional del Prado; Víctor Cageao, Curator of the exhibition; Alfonso Fernández, Marketing and Institutional Director for Director Samsung Iberia, and Andrés Úbeda, Deputy Director of the Museo Nacional del Prado, in the exhibition galleries. Photo © Museo Nacional del Prado​

The Museo del Prado opened its doors for the first time on 19 November 1819 with the name of Real Museo de Pintura y Escultura. That early museum displayed only 311 works, all of them by Spanish painters. Now, 200 years on, the Museo del Prado is considered Spain’s leading cultural institution, shared cultural patrimony of which all Spaniards are proud and a legacy of incalculable value in the history of culture.

Taking the evolution of the Museum’s architecture as its guiding thread, this new installation offers a reflection on the historical and political events which transformed the initial Real Museo into the public institution of international renown which it is today. In parallel, the display shows the changes and modifications that have come about over time in terms of the Museum’s public image, its staff, publications, research, visitors, principal exhibitions and activities.

The display aims to introduce visitors to the transformations of an institution that is a reflection of the history of Spain itself. These physical, historical, political and social transformations are present in a selection of paintings, sculptures, documents, architectural models, postcards, plans, photographs, prints, drawings, publications and objects which aim to strengthen the emotional connection between Spaniards and their Museum and to set its history in context.

According to Miguel Falomir, Director of the Museo del Prado: “The Prado is the great gift that the Spanish nation has made to itself and we are delighted to think that for hundreds of thousands of Spaniards this installation is almost like a survey of the history of their own family.”

The display features 265 exhibits, among them works by Fernando Brambilla from Patrimonio Nacional; two architectural models and a drawing by Rafael Moneo; an architectural model by Normal Foster; a large amount of documentary material; seven sculptures; twelve coins and medals; and four new architectural models that have been specially made for this display and which show the different enlargements made to the Museum.

“The history of the Museo del Prado and its buildings” is complemented by a screen showing a 4K audiovisual production and an interactive app accessible from Samsung tablets with six terminals in the galleries offering different content.

The 5-minute audiovisual work combines historical images of the museum, graphic material, vfx illustrations, modelling techniques and 3D animation to recreate the Prado’s architectural evolution from the construction of Villanueva’s building to the present day.

The interactive app is available in English and Spanish but due to the Covid-19 pandemic visitors cannot currently use it interactively. Once the present situation is over, this app will allow visitors to visualise information on different phases of the building’s history.

“Samsung is extremely proud to be supporting this new permanent display at the Museo del Prado which includes digital work and experience. A commitment to culture is a key axis within our ‘Technology with a Purpose’ programme and for this reason we are working to devise interactive and multimedia projects that improve the experience of the millions of people who visit the Museum every year”, according to Alfonso Fernández, Director of Marketing, Communication and Institutional Relations at Samsung Spain.

Furthermore, this project will complement the various online initiatives launched during the celebration of the Bicentenary: “Voices of the Prado. An oral history”, https://www.museodelprado.es/voces-del-prado, and “Ephemeral Prado”, https://www.museodelprado.es/el-prado-efimero, two documentary archives created to preserve the Museum’s oral and graphic history. “Voices of the Prado” does this through intra-historical, first-person accounts by staff members and other collaborators who have devoted their lives to the Museum, while “Ephemeral Prado” achieves the same end through posters, entry tickets and leaflets among other printed paper items, all of which trace the Museum’s graphic history.

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