New Madrid gallery brings royal treasures under one roof

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A visitor walks past the sculpture "Felipe II" by artist Pompeo Leon at the Gallery of Royal Collections in Madrid, Spain, June 29, 2023. REUTERS/Juan Medina

MADRID (Reuters) – Madrid opened a long-awaited multi-million-dollar gallery on Thursday, bringing hundreds of masterpieces from the royal collection, including works by Caravaggio, Velazquez and Goya, under one roof.

The new Royal Collections Gallery, next to the palace and close to Almudena Cathedral, sits across town from the established institutions of the capital’s “Triangle of Art” – the Prado, the Reina Sofia and the Thyssen-Bornemisza museums.

The 170 million euro ($186 million) building shows artworks collected by the Spanish Habsburg and Bourbon dynasties over five centuries, including the model Bernini used for his “Fontana dei quattro fiumi” in Rome’s Piazza Navona.

Until now, the more than 650 pieces – including tapestries, sculptures, armour, and jewels – were kept in palaces and monasteries across the country.

A third of the exhibits – themselves just a fraction of the total collection – will continue to move between those institutions, officials said.

The eight-floor building made of white concrete, granite, oak wood and cast aluminium also features a chunk of Madrid’s ninth-century wall built under the city’s then Muslim rulers.

“The museum is born with the vocation of being a cultural and tourist key point in Madrid, Spain and Europe,” Ana de la Cueva, head of National Heritage, the state-owned organization that manages the royal collection, told reporters.

She said officials hoped the museum would persuade tourists to extend their stay in the city by at least one day, boosting revenues.

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