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
Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
  • 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

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss