The Royal Board of Trustees of the Museo Nacional de Prado
met in a plenary session presided over by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, President of the Government, and César Antonio Molina, Spanish Minister of Culture. At the meeting the Board approved the Museums Action Plan for 2009-2012. This is the second multi-annual plan drawn up by the Museum that sets out its specific plans for the next four years, establishing its forthcoming strategies and priority actions during the period in question. At the conclusion of the meeting, which took place in the Casón del Buen Retiro, the President visited the Luca Giordano Room, now the Reading Room of the Museums new Library, as well as other rooms in the building following its complete remodelling for use as the Museums new Study Centre.
The 2009-2012 Action Plan, presented for the Boards consideration by the Museums director, Miguel Zugaza, is structured around seven projects intended to fulfil four of the Prados priority missions: making the Museums collections as accessible and visible as possible, both inside the main building and elsewhere; promoting the Museums activities as a reference point for the study and preservation of art, and strengthening its collaboration with the scholarly community; increasing the dynamism and quality of its educational and cultural activities; and promoting an organisational culture and an effective management system that guarantees the Museums economic situation and favours the creation of an outstanding, motivated and participative community. The seven projects within the Action Plan fall under the following headings: The Collection: the other Expansion of the Prado, A larger Museum: the Prado outside the Prado, An optimum Experience of the Prado, The Study Centre: an international reference point for Curatorship and Restoration, The Prados Exhibitions, Being Part of the Prado, and The Future in the Past: the Salón de Reinos.
During his visit to the rooms in the new Study Centre, the President of the Government, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, saw some of the bibliographic treasures housed in the Museums Library, including the Libro delli comandamenti di Dio by Marco dal Monte Santa María (1494), a rare surviving, illustrated Florentine incunable; Principios para estudiar el nobilissimo y real arte de la Pintura by José García Hidalgo (1693), the most important drawing manual of the Spanish Golden Age, and Le Cabinet des plus beaux portraits of around 1700, the edition that has the largest number of prints from Van Dycks famous Iconography. The President was also able to see a number of important documents in the Museums Archive, such as the one recording Picassos appointment as Director of the Museum in 1936.
The Librarys new Reading Room, located in the Central Hall or Luca Giordano Room of the Casón, will open to the public from 9 March from 9am to 2pm (Mondays to Fridays). It will provide access to the holdings of the Library, the Archive and the Documentation Service to all interested scholars and researchers. In addition to its consultation service, it will offer bibliographic information and access to electronic services including Internet (WIFI) and photocopying.
President Zapatero was also informed regarding the establishment of the Museums new Academic Chair, an initiative intended to involve leading figures from the world of scholarship and museums in the life of the Prado. The first holder of the Chair, whose programme will begin next month, is Philippe de Montebello, Director Emeritus of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Fiske Kimball Professor at the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University, and a figure of unquestionable authority and prestige in the world of international museums. The programme of the new Chair will focus on the subject of The Museum: Today and Tomorrow through a series of lectures that will take place between March and October this year, to be given by leading international figures in the museum world. Attendance is by prior enrolment until all places are filled
The 2009-2012 Action Plan
Of the seven projects set out in detail in the 2009-2012 Action Plan, the first two, The Collection: the other Expansion of the Prado, and A larger Museum: the Prado outside the Prado, establish the bases for offering a more extensive presentation of the collection in better museological conditions. This refers both to its main building in Madrid - as a result of having regained a further 25% of display space (hence the other Expansion of the Prado) when office space was moved to the new wing designed by Rafael Moneo - and to buildings other than the main Museum, as part of a project of rationalising and improving the management of the Museums works of art on deposit elsewhere. The Plan for the Reorganisation of the Collections within the Villanueva Building will involve a 50% increase in the number of works on display (between 400 and 500 works will be added to the slightly under 1,000 already on permanent display).
The third project, entitled An optimum Experience of the Prado, constitutes a complementary line of action that will continue a pre-existing one set out in the Museums previous Action Plan. It will pursue that objective of encouraging visits to the Museum, ensuring that every visit is of the maximum quality possible through a variety of educational resources and visitor services aimed at accessibility.
The fourth project, The Study Centre: an international reference point for Curatorship and Restoration, is seen as the starting point through which the Prado will gain official recognition as a centre of scholarly research. The project sets out the different areas of activity within the new Study Centre, emphasising the possibility of expanding and perfecting its research and curatorial programme and also encouraging links with the scholarly and academic communities through the programme of Academic Chairs and training plans for specialists offered by the Escuela del Prado.
The fifth project, The Prados Exhibitions, sets out the schedule for an extensive programme of temporary exhibitions that are intended to focus around the Museums research projects and encourage collaboration between the Prado and other national and international museums and collections. Among the most important exhibitions scheduled to fall within the present Plan is the major survey exhibition on Joaquín Sorolla, which is the first to open at the Museum this year. It is followed by one on Turner and the Old Masters, and one on Renoir and French painting from the Sterling and Francine Clark Institute, both in 2010; one on Chardin in 2011; and two on late Raphael and the young Van Dyck, both in 2012. During these four years the Museum is also aiming to maintain its Travelling Prado exhibition programme that involves travelling exhibitions shown in different venues within Spain, as well as its International Prado programme, that involves exhibitions of its holdings shown outside the country.
The principal innovation within the Plan is the sixth project, entitled Being Part of the Prado. It constitutes the first mission statement by the Museum concerning the need to encourage the creation of a corporate culture that ensures the maximum quality with regard to visitor services and favours the development of active participation on the part of all the Museums employees, improving their career structures and increasing their possibilities of promotion.
Finally, the seventh project, The Future in the Past: the Salon de Reinos, sets out the specfic plan for the re-modelling and rehabilitation of the Salón de Reinos for its future incorporation into the Prado Campus as a new space for exhibitions and other cultural activities.
Philippe de Montebello: the first Academic Chair of the Museo del Prado
The programme of the Museums new Academic Chair, whose first incumbent is Philippe de Montebello, takes the form of a series of lectures on The Museum: Today and Tomorrow. They will be held between March and October 2009 and will focus on museums and the new challenges that they face in the 21st century, including research, education, technology and exhibitions. Lectures will be given by leading names in the world of international museums, including Michel Laclotte, Director of the Musée du Louvre from 1987 to 1995; Maxwell L. Anderson, Director of the Indianapolis Museum; Mark Jones, Director of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London; Keith Christiansen, Curator of European Painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; Tom Campbell, present Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; and Miguel Zugaza, Director of the Museo del Prado. The latter will take part in a lecture-debate with Philippe de Montebello. Among the issues to be considered in these lectures are: the role of the art museum; excellence and universality; the work of art and education as pillars of the museum; physical and intellectual accessibility; ways of understanding and preserving art; the role of curators; and the de-localisation of museums in the global era.
Prior enrolment is required to attend these lectures. The Museum will offer 30 grants to young graduate professionals (aged up to 30) whose qualification relates to the content of the series. Attendance fee for the series for grant-holders: 150 Euros. Grant applications should be made between 6 and 13 February. Attendance fee for the general public: 250 Euros. Enrolment for the general public: 19 to 27 February. Both grant applications and enrolment requests can be made using the on-line application form on the Museums website.
The inaugural lecture of the new Academic Chair will be given by its incumbent, Philippe de Montebello, on 5 March. All the lectures in this programme will take place on Thursdays at 7pm. The course is aimed at professionals working in the areas of teaching, museology, architecture, curatorship, conservation, and art education, as well as students.
The Museums Library, Archive and Documentation Service
With the start of the Study Centres activities, the Museums intention is to become an international reference point for art historical research, in particular regarding its own collections. The architectural re-modelling of the Casón del Buen Retiro (completed in October 2007) means that this building can now house the departments of Curatorship, the Library, the Archive and the Documentation Service. These new uses of the Casón will be completed over the next four years with the inauguration of the Escuela del Prado, an initiative aimed at training curators, restorers and museum professionals.
The principal axis of the Study Centre lies in its documentary resources, comprising the holdings of the Library, Archive and Documentation Service of the Museum. The Library is one of the best and least known art libraries in Madrid. It specialises in the visual arts from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. It contains around 57,000 books, 1,000 titles of periodicals and important holdings of audiovisual material and manuscripts. It is particularly rich in foreign publications and also has an important collection of auction and other sale catalogues.
Over the past few years the Museum has made a significant investment in acquiring new holdings for the Library. The most notable acquisitions are those of two private libraries. The first is that of José María Cervelló (born Cadiz, 1947), comprising around 10,000 volumes including a remarkable collection of old treatises on art and architecture, and the second is that of the Daza-Madrazo family, comprising around 1,000 books of which most were in the magnificent library of José de Madrazo (1781-1859), painter to Ferdinand VII and Director of the Museo del Prado from 1838 to 1851. The Museum has also acquired the libraries of leading art historians such as the late José Álvarez Lopera, formerly Chief Curator of Spanish Art at the Museum. In addition, the Library has received important donations including the library of the collector Antonio Correa, comprising around 1,500 volumes with an interesting holding of illustrated periodicals and books on modernismo. As a result of these acquisitions, the library has around 4,500 books published prior to 1900 that are now catalogued and which will be made more widely available over the next few years through digitalisation and a programme of exhibitions.
The protection and identification of the Librarys complete holdings have been ensured through the installation of a modern system of Radiofrequency that guarantees their safety and control through the most advanced technology in this field.
The Archive is a key source for the study of the Museum and its collections. It consists of documentation produced by the Museum itself from its earliest days to the present and totals more than 3,000 boxes organised in documentary series, notably Donations and Bequests, Acquisitions, Restoration and Copyists. Its inventory can be consulted through the terminals in the Reading Room.
Finally, the Documentation Service assembles and keeps updated all information on the Museums works of art. This information can be consulted in the SIMA database, accessible from the terminals in the Reading Room. In addition, the Service has a series of documentary files available to researchers.
The Library, Archive and Documentation Service occupy several floors in the Casón del Bueno Retiro. The public access area with the Reading Room and open-access reference library occupy the great Luca Giordano Room (formerly the Room of the Ambassadors in the Buen Retiro Palace), beneath the ceiling with the artists painting of The Allegory of the Spanish Monarchy. On the same floor, located at the level of the street access from c/Alfonso XII, are the auxiliary rooms offering user services such as information, photocopying, terminals for consulting the catalogue, etc, as well as internal office space. The two lower floors (Basement levels 1 and 2) have the book stores, with sufficient space for around 5% annual growth over the next 20 years, as well as room for the acquisition of new libraries. These deposits have optimum security levels and environmental control.