Prado Museum Extension

Prado Museum Extension, Madrid - Spain, Rafael Moneo
Construction year: 2007
Address: Calle Ruiz de Alarcón 23 | MADRID | Spain | Visit Website
Latitude/Longitude: 40.41418, -3.69109

The original Prado Museum was designed in 1785 by the architect Juan de Villanueva on the orders of Charles III to house the Natural History Cabinet.

The main building was enlarged with short pavilions in the rear between 1900 and 1960. The next enlargement was the incorporation of two buildings (nearby but not adjacent) into the institutional structure of the museum: the Casón del Buen Retiro, which is equipped to display up to 400 paintings and which housed the bulk of the 20th-century art from 1971 to 1997, and the Salón de Reinos, formerly the Army Museum.

In 1993, an extension proposed by the Prado Museum ‘s director at the time, Felipe Garin, was quickly abandoned after a wave of criticism. In the late 1990s, a $14 million roof work forced the Velázquez masterpiece Las Meninas to change galleries twice. In 1998, the Prado annex in the nearby Casón del Buen Retiro closed for a $10 million two-year overhaul that included three new underground levels. In 2007, the museum finally executed Rafael Moneo’s project to expand its exposition room to 16,000 square meters, hoping to increase the yearly number of visitors from 1.8 million to 2.5 million.

A glass-roofed and wedge-shaped foyer now contains the Prado Museum ‘s shops and cafeteria, removing them from the main building to make more room for galleries. The 16th-century Cloister of Jerónimo has been removed stone by stone to make foundations for increased stability of surrounding buildings and will be re-assembled in the new museum’s extension. Hydraulic jacks had to be used to prevent the basement walls from falling during construction.  The enlargement is an underground building which connects the main building to another one entirely reconstructed.

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