MADRID – The Prado Museum in Madrid will celebrate its 200th anniversary on Tuesday.
The museum is regarded as a benchmark of Spanish art and culture and one of the world’s leading art galleries, receiving almost three million visitors annually.
Goya, the painter with the most works in the museum, will be the star of the bicentenary celebrations with the largest exhibition to date of his paintings.
More than 300 works from the Prado collection, public and private acquisitions will be on display.
The exhibition will be open until February 16 and tackles important subjects.
Museum director Miguel Falomir told Efe on Monday: “I don’t think there is another contemporary artist who has addressed violence against women or social inequalities as Goya did 200 years ago.”
The colossal doors of the museum, located on the historic Paseo del Prado, opened to the public for the first time on 19 November 1819, when its collection consisted of only 311 works.
During its first years of life in the 1920s, the Prado’s collection was mostly adorned with pieces from royal palaces and monasteries.
The first work bought by the museum, then known as the Royal Painting Museum, was The Trinity by Jose de Ribera.
One of the most expensive works acquired recently was the Virgen de la Granada by Fra Angelico, which cost 18 million euros.
More than 14,000 square meters of exhibition space houses 1,290 works exhibited to the public across 121 different rooms, from artists such as Velazquez, El Greco, Titian, Rubens, Bosch and Goya.
However, the works exhibited in the Prado’s busy halls only represent 16% of all its artistic heritage.
The museum has a total of 7,988 cataloged paintings, of which 6,698 are not on display.
This year the museum received the Princess of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities, and continued to welcome millions of visitors each year.
In 2018, the Prado had 2.9 million visitors, a 2.4% increase on the previous year.
The greatest attendance was in 2016, with more than three million visitors, thanks to a temporary exhibition on Bosch.
Velazquez’s painting Las Meninas is possibly one of the most recognized and valuable pieces in the gallery.
The institution is not allowed to lend the 17th-Century work to any entity or international museum.
As a general rule, the museum does not lend more than seven works by Velazquez at a time.
The museum’s largest painting measures 5.61 x 7.28 meters, while the smallest is only 11 x 8.5 centimeters and could fit in someone’s hand.
There are 4,926 pieces by male painters but only 32 by female painters.
The Prado’s last exhibition highlights two of these women: Lavinia Fontana and Sofonisba Anguissola.
Prado began its bicentennial celebrations a year ago with 365 different events and activities.
Falomir said the aim was “to remember that this museum is the great gift that has been given to the Spanish nation” and that “what was originally a collection conceived for the enjoyment of a few has become the heritage of all Spaniards.”