The Prado Museum is located in the in the so called “golden triangle of art” of the Spanish capital, Madrid. It is considered as being one of the finest art galleries in the world, hosting works from classical Spanish artists such as Goya or Velazquez.
With almost 3 million visitors every year, the Prado museum is a must-do whilst visiting Madrid.
The principal building was completed by architect Juan de Villanueva in 1785. King Ferdinand VII baptised it the New Royal Museum of Paintings and sculptures. When it first opened its doors to the public, the museum already had a collection composed of 1,510 pieces, all coming from private collections from Royal Residences. After being nationalized in 1868, the museum then took the name that we know today, the Prado Museum – which literally translates to “museum of the meadow”, in reference to the wild field that previously occupied the museum. More than 2,300 paintings were incorporated since the museum opened its doors, as well as sculptures, drawings, prints… all acquired through purchases or donations. With a significant augmentation of the numbers of visitors in the 19thand 20thcentury, several expansions were made to the main Villanueva building, then later on a new building was ordered and completed in 2007 by architect Rafael Moneo. It is estimated that the Prado has over 35,000 artworks, and only 1/7thof the art works can be displayed due to lack of space!
The museum offers a programme called “El Arte de Educar” in collaboration with the Caixa Foundation. With different types of visits adapted to the age of the kids, the program supports the students so that they can make the most out of the visit.
For pre-school students, the museum offers a tour through a couple of rooms, and then a short teaching workshop in which a few concepts will be explained. The aim of this experience is that the pupils discover what a museum is in the most general sense of the term. Pre-school visits will focus on the individual portrait, with two available itineraries around this thematic. With each itinerary comes a dossier with a few suggestions to work on in class.
Primary school visits
The museum offers a tour through some of the rooms and then a talk with an educator, where a few concepts that were mentioned during the visit will be analysed in more detail. This experience’s aim is to explain the organisation of the museum and how they handle the many collections and exhibitions going on at the time. The main theme of the visits is the collective portrait. The first itinerary explores family portraits, and how the positioning of everyone helps us guess the relation between the characters and what type of family they were. With the second itinerary, you will study the relations of power and affection in between the different characters depicted by the artist.
Primary and secondary school students
The museum also offers “dynamic visits”, in which the students will go through rooms accompanied by educators who add to the visit with the help of didactic element. The main aim in these types of visits is to familiarize the kids the museum’s collection though universal themes, such as the human body, day to day object, the spaces that we occupy…
The guided visits push the students to share their thoughts about the paintings, adding to the collective experience. The aim is that the students familiarize themselves with the museum’s collection, as well as establishing connections between their curriculum and the exposed arts. An educator will be accompanying them, giving extra information thanks to some digital material, and encouraging them to have critical thoughts while looking at the art. There are seven available itineraries all focusing on distinct themes.
If you are visiting the museum with your family, the museum offers a few activities, the main one being a treasure hunt. The treasure hunt consists of two alternative tours, both with the objective that the kids can discover little surprising details in the selected paintings that the tours focus on. The parents that accompany the kids also participate in an active manner acting as intermediaries. The first itinerary invites you to learn about different painting techniques and some history, all while focusing on artists like Memling, Patinir, El Bosco and Goya. The second itinerary offers a more dynamic look into artists like El Greco, Tintoretto, Rubensand Leone Leoni.These tours are free, and the material can be found in the different “information points”
Plan your visit
To help you organize your visit, the website of the Prado museum offers different itineraries, such as one, two or three hours in the museum. There are about 30 itineraries available and you can actually download the map with your chosen route to save time in the museum! For a few extra euros, you can have access to an audio-guide, which can be really helpful if you want to learn more about the history and techniques behind some of the paintings. (Audio-guide available in Spanish, Catalan, Basque, Galician, German, Korean, Chinese, English, Italian, French, Japanese, Portuguese and Russian). The museum also offers audio-guides for children, recommended for kids between the age of 5 and 12. These audio-guides are free and will help the kids get a better understanding of the paintings, in a more accessible way.
If you are going as a school group, be sure to reserve the month before your visit! The scholar tours are available from October to June, from Monday to Friday. They cost 60 euros per group, and last about 1h30.
To avoid queuing in the museum, we recommend you buy your tickets online. The general price is of 15 euros, but prices may vary based on age. If you want a more private experience, you can get a ticket for an admission before the museum officially opens, from 9 to 10 am. This is a bit of a pricier option but guarantees an unforgettable experience! (This option is reserved for groups of 12 and over, with a price of 50 euros per person). Also, keep in mind that the busiest times in the museum is between 10am and 13h30. If you plan on doing the three museums from the “Golden triangle of art” (Thyssen-Bornemisza, Reina Sofia and the Prado Museum), you can save up to 20% by buying a Passeo de arte card. This card grants you access to these three museums and is valid for a whole year, so no rush!