Art Museums in Madrid. It doesn’t take a veteran to know that there are a lot of them. From the brooding darks of Goya, to the angular shapes of Picasso, there is a lot on offer. Most first timers start out running the circumference of the city’s Golden Triangle: The Reina Sofia, Prado, and Thyssen-Bornemiza museums. Which boast the widest selection of traditional spanish stiles you are likely to find anywhere in the world.
But then theres the price tag. Picasso’s perspective and Velazquez’s portraiture don’t come cheap, and just visiting the three big’uns amounts to a whopping 31€ in entrance tickets (8€, 14€, and 9€ at the Reina Sofia, Prado, and Thyssen respectively).
Now we aren’t trying to dissuade you. By all means go. But don’t stop at Cibeles.
But in a city that has a space dedicated to every creative form imaginable, the price of pretty doesn’t always come at a premium. So put your phone on silent, pack away that flash, and come with us as we take you round our 6 favourite art museums in Madrid that go beyond the regular tourist trail.
Art Museums in Madrid: Matadero
Entrance: Free. See special exhibition pricing here
Address: Paseo de la Chopera, 14
Tel: 915 17 73 09
Opening hours: Daily 09:00 – 22:00
Espacio Matadero defines itself as a “great laboratory of interdisciplinary contemporary creativity, linked to the city.” In other words, expect contemporary urban art, more often than not breaching the confines of painting and sculpture.
Originally opened in 1911 as an abattoir, the Matadero (Slaughterhouse) was battered on the front lines of the civil war, and began to fall into disuse in the 1970s. Following several failed reincarnations (including a storehouse, and the seat of Arganzuela district), this slump of derelict buildings underwent a startling transformation in 2005. After being cleared out and polished off, the grounds were reopened the following year as a cultural space celebrating the best of urban art.
The museum consists of a series of well spaced naves (warehouses), each housing their own temporary exhibits. This means much of the complex is open air, and it makes for excellent day out when the whether is good. With a terrace on sight, and multiple events and workshops in the central plaza during the summer months.
Don’t come if you’re looking for oil paintings, or classical sculpture. This is a Madrid art museum where the modern and outspoken rain supreme. With recent exhibits including Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution, Animal Capital (modern art championing animal rights), and #SinFiltros, photos which follow the daily struggles of Syrian refugees in Europe.
Information on upcoming events can be found here, and in our MadGuide.
Museo del Traje
Address: Avenida de Juan de Herrera, 2
Tel: 915 504 700
Opening hours: Tues – Sat: 09:30 – 19:00, Sun: 10:00 – 15:00, Mon: Closed
Hidden away behind the leafy foliage and faculty buildings of the Ciudad Universitaria, the Museo del Traje crouches like some fantastically chiq Bond lair. Little visited and hopelessly quiet (sometimes even on weekends), it’s sterile halls make up the runway for the development of Spanish fashion: from the first Iberians, to the revolutionary designs of the Movida Madrileña.
See how male and female dress became increasingly distinct during the middle ages. Explore intricate dress design from the court of Carlos III, 19th century bourgeoise, and Balenciaga. And see how fashion evolved from necessity to art form. The Madrid art museum has even hosted events with such colossal names as Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour.
Museo de las Américas
Address: Av. de los Reyes Católicos, 6
Tel: 915 492 641
Opening hours: Tues/Wed/Fri/Sat/Sun: 09:30 – 15:00, Thurs: 09:30 – 19:00, Mon: Closed
Many art museums in Madrid focus on the private collections of its most wealthy tycoons and aristocrats. With emotive works that explore the interests and pursuits of the most pious and wealthy historical citizens.
Museo de las Americas takes a very different look at Spain’s past. Focussing on indigenous art from the pre-Columbian and colonial periods. The madrid art museum offers a very real look at the issues of slavery, racism, and systematic cleansing of local culture that came to American shores with the arrival of Cortés and Nuñez de Balboa. Representations if the grandeur of colonial life, and the native peoples that suffered as a result.
Address: Calle de Embajadores, 53
Grungy, raw, and bursting at the seams with diversity, the Tabacalera is Lavapies in a nutshell.
Formally a tabaco factory, until that business became obsolete in the middle of the last century. This great rusting relic of a bygone Madrid spent decades as a squat, before being bought by the Ayuntamiento, dusted off and reopened to the public.
Unlike other refurbished art centres such as the Matadero and Conde Duque. The Tabacalera was not stripped of it’s punky look to be refitted and gentrified. And the rap battles, markets, and botellons continue. Unperturbed by franchises and sponsorships.
Once you arrive at the factory’s main entrance, cross the main packing hall and take the stairs down to the basement. What was once used as a space for the drying of tabaco leaves has been cleared out. And decked wall to wall in colourful murals by local street artists. Political statements. messages of solidarity. Jokes. And the just plain weird make up a living, breathing testimony to the best of Madrid street art.
When your done, head out to the complex’s walled skate park and kick back for a beer in the sun (you’ll have to buy it outside though- the Tabacalera is a business free zone!)
Entrance: Free. See special exhibition pricing here
Address: Calle Conde Duque, 9
Tel: 913 184 450
Opening hours: Tues to Sat: 08:30 – 21:00, Sun: 10:30 – 14:00, Mon: Closed
Another crumbling building turned art space (do we sense a pattern here?) is the Centro Conde Duque near Plaza de España. Formerly a military arsenal, the building was brought into the present day in 2006 when it was converted into a library and cultural space.
Music festivals, events, workshops, theatre and art, are just some of the things on offer at this buffet of creativity. Conde Duque has an especially large viewfinder when it comes to the arts. Having put in exhibitions covering contemporary Afghanistan (2016), Iran (2016) and India (On until February 2017). The venue is also the host of an annual international jazz festival, often throws parties in it’s central courtyard during the summer months.
Address: Paseo del General Martínez Campos, 37
Tel: 913 101 584
Opening hours: Tue to Sat: 09:30 – 20:00, Sun: 10:00 – 15:00, Mon: Closed
In 1910 Joaquin Sorolla, the heavy weight impressionist, began work on his studio-mansion in the Spanish Capital. It would be here that the some of the country’s greatest national treasures were produced. A hitherto unseen medley of light and colour that drew inspiration from the sunny coasts of the artist’s native Valencia.
The Sorolla museum has been left just as it was when Joaquin died in 1923. The canvas he was painting left untouched and uncompleted.
The Madrid art museum covers several styles. Not Joaquin’s own work, his scenes of Mediterranean beaches, women, and children. But also his own private art collection.
The Sorrolla museum also has a garden, designed in Andalusian style, which is open to the public.