If you’re considering a visit to Spain you must, of course, include a visit to the extraordinary art museums that dot the country. You could easily spend your entire journey moving from one to the other and never see them all. This is one of the best reasons to make multiple visits! Of course these are just a few of the more well known collections, there are many, many smaller and more intimate museums that are also well worth the time.
It’s always best to do advance research before you begin your adventure. Some museums are closed on certain days and some may require admission. But all are a tribute to the appreciation of the Spanish people for all things beautiful.
This Madrid museum, popularly called El Prado, was founded in 1816 by King Fernando VII and contains a large collection of Old Masters covering the period between the 12th and 19th centuries. Artists include Velazquez, Goya, Murillo, Durer, El Greco, Bosch, Rubens, Fra Angelico, David, Zurbaran, Raphael, Titian, Ribera, Van Dyck, and Rembrandt. With over 8,600 paintings and sculptures it is the largest museum in Spain so plan for several days here if possible. It is a true treasure and shouldn’t be missed.
The largest museum in Barcelona shows off its treasures in a building called the Palau Nacional, built for the 1929 World’s Fair and overlooking the fountains of Montjuic. It has works of Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance arts from the 11th to the 18th century as well as a magnificent Catalan art collection and modern art from the 19th and 20th century.
Located in Seville and founded in 1839, this museum is housed in the old Convento de la Merced Calzada, built in 1602. The building is an example of Andalusian mannerist architecture of the 17th century. When the Spanish government confiscated all the art from convents and monasteries the art from Seville was placed here. The collections include art from the medieval to modern times emphasizing the Seville school and includes artists such as Francisco de Zurbaran, Juan de Valdes Leal, and Bartolome Esteban Murillo, Francisco Pacheco, Velazquez, Cano, El Grecos and Goyas.
In 1993 a remarkable art collection, second only to the collection of the Queen of England, was purchased by the Spanish government and placed in the neoclassic Villahermosa Palace in Madrid. It was owned by the Baron Hans Heinrich von Thyssen and contained over 1500 paintings. The decision to sell to Spain was influenced by the Baron’s Spanish wife, Carmen Cervera who also agreed to lend her own personal collection several years later. The museum contains an impressive collection of German Expressionists and other Impressionists and Post Impressionists, such as Gauguin. There is also Pop Art and avant garde art from early in the 20th century. The Cervera collection also has the best collections of Catalan art and Andalusian art in Spain.
Designed by the Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry this museum caused an international stir when it debuted in Bilbao in 1997. Undulating walls make this museum a giant sculpture in itself, made of titanium, limestone and glass and sits on the Nervion River. Unlike its counterparts, the Guggenheim contains exclusively modern works by a stellar roster of artists such as Richard Serra, Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol and Robert Raucshenburg. It is a truly stunning art experience and a fabulous complement to other, more classical, Spanish museums.
This is just a small example of the many, many museums of Spain. The Spanish respect and cherish art and so have made it a matter of national pride to support all those who create and nurture it. Conexus International celebrates the joy of exploring the global community and immersion in other cultures. Join us for the educational experience of a lifetime as our dedicated team of educators and professionals guide you through our study abroad or cultural programs. We want to show you the world!