Prado Museum Facts

The Prado Museum has one of the finest collections of art in Europe.

Artworks from Francisco Goya, Hieronymus Bosch, El Greco, Peter Paul Rubens, Titian, and Diego Velázquez are found at the Prado.

However, as it has been around for more than two centuries, there are a lot of facts hidden inside the walls of the museum.

This article unveils all the Prado Museum facts.

1. A Famous Architect Built It

Juan de Villanueva
Image: Wikimedia.org

Charles III commissioned the famous architect Juan de Villanueva to build the Prado Museum in 1785.

Charles’s initial vision was to build it up as Madrid’s Natural History Museum.

Juan de Villanueva was the architect chosen. In Spain, Juan was known as the architect of the Enlightenment.

This was to be the Natural History Museum of Madrid. However, now it is the leading Spanish National Art Museum, housing European artwork from the 12th century.

The Royal Museum was renamed the National Museum of Paintings and Sculptures after it was formerly known as the Royal Museum.

King Ferdinand VII and Queen Isabel opened the museum to the public in 1819. It was granted its current name, Museo Nacional Del Prado, at this time.

2. Prado Became a Museum in 1819

Prado became a museum in 1819
Image: Britannica.com

A historical fact about the Prado Museum is that it was designed in 1788 as a center for the natural sciences.

After King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel repurposed the museum, it became a public gallery in 1819.

The queen was the one who convinced King Ferdinand, the grandson of Charles III, to let the museum store paintings and sculptures.

The museum stored art from the Spanish royal family to show Europe that Spanish art had merit.

3. It is a Part of the Golden Triangle of Art Madrid

Golden Triangle of Art Madrid
Image: Wikispanje.nl

A fun fact about the Prado Museum is that it is part of Madrid’s iconic Golden Triangle of Art.

The other two museums in the triangle are the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and the Museo Reina Sofia.

These three museums are tourist favorites and are located close to each other on the Paseo del Prado boulevard.

They have the finest European and Spanish art collections and display masterpieces from renowned artists.

If you are an art lover and wish to see art pieces from different centuries, visiting the Golden Triangle of Art in Madrid is a must.

4. The First Art Pieces Displayed in the Museum were Spanish

When King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel repurposed the museum, it was to display only Spanish artwork.

Therefore, when the Prado Museum opened its doors in 1819 to the public, it housed a collection of only 311 paintings.

Other works at the site were collections from more than 1,000 royal residences.

However, the collection increased in the 16th century, when Charles V succeeded the Habsburg and Bourbon monarchs.

The Madrazos, José de Madrazo y Agudo and Federico de Madrazo, Vicente López, Carlos de Haes, Eduardo Rosales, and Sorolla were among the artists represented in this museum.

After that, over 2000 paintings, sculptures, prints, and drawings have been added to the original collection of the Prado.

Barón Emile d’Erlanger’s gift of Goya’s Black Paintings in 1881 was a significant bequest to the museum.

5. House Art Pieces are from Closed Museums

House art pieces are from closed museums
Image: Arquitecturaviva.com

An interesting fact about the El Prado museum is that its artifacts are from now-closed museums.

The Museum’s collection of artworks was around 1510 when it first opened its doors.

There are currently around 7600 paintings in the museum’s collection, as well as over 1000 sculptures.

Some of these collections come from museums that have since closed, such as the Museo de la Trinidad (closed in 1872) and the Museo de Arte Moderno (closed in 1971).

The museum’s collection has grown thanks to a number of bequests, donations, and purchases.

6. Not All Artworks are Displayed 

The Museo Nacional del Prado has over 25,000 artworks, from sculptures and paintings to prints, drawings, and photographs.

This means the museum’s collection is so extensive that it cannot be displayed together.

Only 1/7th of the collection is displayed, while some supplies are donated to other museums and galleries temporarily.

7. Prado Museum was Once Known as the Royal Museum

prado musueum as royal palace
Image: Hotels.com

Following the death of Charles III, Ferdinand and Queen Isabel took control of Spain.

King Ferdinand was unsure what to do with the Royal Museum.

Queen Isabel persuaded the King to utilize the museum for paintings and sculptures.

After King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel remodeled it, it became the National Museum of Paintings and Sculptures.

It was eventually renamed the National Museum of Paintings and Sculpture, and then the Museo Nacional del Prado.

When it was nationalized in 1868, it was given its current name.

The Museum del Prado loosely translates to the Museum of the Meadow, indicating its former purpose as a museum of the natural sciences.

It was enlarged in the twentieth century to suit its growing collection.

8. It was Expanded to Accommodate its Collection

accommodate its collection
Image: Aawsat.com

An architectural fact about the Prado Museum is that it has been altered strategically several times to accommodate its vast collection.

As time passed, the museum’s collection grew, so an additional structure was built.

In the 1950s and 1960s, two new buildings, the Palacio de Villahermosa and the Casón del Buen Retiro, were introduced to the Prado campus for its extension.

In 2007, another new wing was designed by Rafael Monroe to enhance the museum’s modernization.

Even today, with more than 27,000 artworks, this famous attraction in Madrid is still growing, both architecturally and artistically.


What is an interesting fact about the Prado Museum?

The Prado Museum was reopened in 1819.

It was initially built as a natural science center, designed by the famous architect Juan de Villaneuva.

But after receiving encouragement from Queen Isabel, King Ferdinand converted it into an art museum.

Why was the Prado Museum built?

It was constructed to house the Natural History Cabinet after orders from King Charles III.

However, after years, the museum’s intent was changed to store Royal Spanish artworks for the public.

A Prado Museum fact is that it has expanded and upgraded its collection since then.

What is the most famous picture in the Prado Museum?

Las Meninas by Velázquez is probably the most popular painting at the Prado Museum.

It has the largest canvas made by a Serville painter and is more than 3 meters wide and 3 meters high.

Whose statue is in front of the Prado Museum?

The Statue of Velázquez (Madrid), in front of the museum’s main gate, is dedicated to Diego de Velázquez.

The statue is possibly the first artwork you will see at the Prado.

Featured Image: Nytimes.com

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