Spain unveils new 'Art Walk' linking capital's three major galleries

Vast and clamorous building sites in the heart of Madrid will shortly reveal dazzling extensions to three of the world's greatest art museums, linked by a leafy stroll dubbed the New Art Walk.

The Prado, the Thyssen Bornemisza and the Reina Sofia museums, a few moments' walk from each other along the Paseo de Prado boulevard, are to expand into spectacular buildings set to open next year. The government this week hailed the New Art Walk as one of the world's most important cultural projects.

The galleries house some of the top international art collections and are the Spanish capital's main tourist attractions, drawing millions of visitors annually.

"Few European cities have such a high concentration of extraordinarily rich art and cultural activity so close together," said Spain's Culture Minister Pilar de Castillo. "Next year, this privileged district of art will draw even more people of all ages and from all over the world."

The New Art Walk is a demonstration of Spain's recent commitment to upmarket tourism based on culture and the cities, a commitment rewarded this week with the announcement that Spain has topped France for the first time as the favourite destination for Britons travelling abroad. The Spanish government has invested 147m euros (£102m) to provide 65,000 square metres (670,000 square feet) of extra space for the three museums, the biggest public investment in art that Spain has yet undertaken, Ms Castillo said.

By promoting the New Art Walk, the authorities hope to create a cultural space comparable to Washington's Museum Mall, Berlin's Museum Island and London's Kensington museum quarter. Each gallery will gain multistorey extensions to house libraries, bookshops, gift shops, auditoriums, cafés, study areas and new exhibition spaces. Big exhibitions are planned to inaugurate the new spaces.

The Thyssen extension, in a former palace gutted for the purpose by a group of avant-garde Catalan architects, BOPBAA, will open first and house the huge private collection of the Baroness Carmen Thyssen.

A steel, wood and class extension to the Reina Sofia down the road, designed by the French architect Jean Nouvel, will open in the summer. And the long-awaited Prado expansion masterminded by Frenchman Rafael Moneo opens next winter. The extension, plunging deep beneath the existing building and extending to the remains of nearby 17th century cloisters, doubles the Prado's size.

Museum directors and architects leading each renovation project mounted high-profile presentations this week, dodging the forests of cables, scaffolding, steel girders and naked concrete pillars.

The three museums have long felt poky for the treasures they own. The new buildings will enable works currently stored in vaults to be displayed, and free up space for temporary shows and shops.

The Thyssen plans a blockbuster next year on Gauguin, followed by German Expressionism; the Reina Sofia will launch its bigger self with Dali and Lichtenstein. And the Prado, which today unveils Velazquez's portrait of The Pope's Barber recently bought from an American private collector for 23m euros (£16m), is to celebrate Spanish portraits from El Greco to Picasso.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power