A Virtual Art Walk

Category: Art & Culture April 2, 2020

We know many of our visitors have had to postpone their trips to Madrid. Soon we’ll be back to normal, but during this period we would like to invite everyone who is staying home to take part in a number of virtual activities organised by the museums and cultural institutions along the Paseo del Arte (Art Walk). So when you do finally come to Madrid, you’ll be even more eager to see it!

Heading from north to south, as it were, our virtual tour begins in the National Library, located in Paseo de Recoletos. For years an enormous effort has been made to digitise its holdings, which you can peruse via the Digital Periodical and Newspaper Library and the Hispanic Digital Library. You’ll find surprising collections like Ephemera (cut-outs, cinema tickets, menus, etc.) or Gastronomy, which is of particular interest now that the confinement imposed on so many parts of the world has left us with time to cook. Housed in the same building, but in the part located along Calle Serrano, is the National Archaeological Museum. In addition to a virtual tour of every room in the museum, its website offers 3D views of thirty of its Greek vases. The Virtual Classroom and its extremely comprehensive YouTube channel, where all of the recorded lectures are available, are also among the virtual tour’s most interesting options.

The other side of Paseo de Recoletos is home to the Mapfre Foundation and its Espacio Miró, which is also a virtual space that allows us to use our screens to walk through its rooms, just as if we were actually there. In addition, its YouTube channel offers 485 videos on past exhibitions and the foundation’s collection. CentroCentro, located in Cibeles Palace, also has its own YouTube channel. The content in its various sections –Exposiciones (Exhibitions), Música (Music), Programa Público (Public Programme) and Aprendizaje Colectivo (Collective Learning)– allows visitors to enjoy lectures, talks, workshops and concerts held in recent years. Just behind CentroCentro, in the beautiful neighbourhood of Los Jerónimos, the National Museum of Decorative Arts houses what may be the most spectacular Valencian kitchen in existence. In the 18th century it was customary for wealthy families from Spain’s Mediterranean coast to use painted tiles to create these sorts of recreational spaces where they would have their afternoon snacks. Thanks to the virtual visit available on its website, even though all of Madrid’s museums are closed these days, you can continue to enjoy all that it has to offer.

Moving on to Paseo del Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum was one of the first museums to launch a specific programme for this period of confinement. #ThyssenDesdeCasa (#ThyssenFromHome) includes virtual tours of the entire permanent collection and the extraordinary exhibition Rembrandt and Amsterdam Portraiture, 1590-1670, as well as various Spotify lists inspired by the paintings. There are also communities and free online courses, including offerings as enticing as Light and Colour in Painting: The Venetian Myth and Landscape: Myths, Inventions and Realities.

The Prado Museum blazed a trail as one of the first cultural institutions to develop a digital platform. Although most of the online activities they offer are in Spanish, you can explore the museum’s stunning collection of over 8,600 paintings and 700 sculptures on its website, which is available in English and Chinese. Under the hashtag #Pradocontigo (#Pradowithyou), during this period it has launched a new edition of its digital courses on Velázquez and Hieronymus Bosch. If you’re not particularly interested in the paintings of these two great masters –although I sincerely doubt that’s the case–, you also have access to educational resources aimed at all levels, from interactive games for the whole family to an encyclopaedia and pages for researchersThe museum’s YouTube channel is one of the most comprehensive you’ll find, including talks, selected works with commentaries, videos on the restoration of pieces in its collection –the one on Fra Angelico’s The Annunciation is wonderful– and conversations between intellectuals and artists regarding specific works. The guest experts include: Emilio Lledó, Estrella de Diego, Fernando Savater, Esther Ferrer, El Roto and Soledad Sevilla.

As for the Reina Sofía Museum, in addition to a microsite –Rethinking Guernica– devoted to Picasso’s great painting, its website also boasts a multimedia section and an online radio tool featuring some very informative podcasts in English, as well as others that are works of sound art in themselves. Similarly, those who haven’t been able to visit Medialab Prado can always check out its multimedia archive.

Heading down Ronda de Valencia, our first stop is La Casa Encendida. During this period it will be reposting some talks on its YouTube and Vimeo channels and offering a selection of educational material. Among its most original initiatives is the reading club it has set up on Facebook. Further along, in the former Royal Tobacco Factory near the Glorieta de Embajadores roundabout, the exhibition hall Promoción del Arte has a website that offers a virtual tour of some of its exhibitions, such as Joan Rabascall. Tout va Bien.

And that’s our itinerary for our first weeks of confinement. We’re convinced that things will be better soon. In the meantime, we can continue to enjoy the Paseo del Arte (Art Walk) with these digital programmes and initiatives. Remember that on their Twitter, Instagram and Facebook profiles, Madrid’s museums are posting not just activities that were held on-site before the confinement, but also content relating to the city’s fantastic cultural heritage. You can follow this content using the hashtag #Laculturaentucasa (#Cultureinyourhome), a campaign organised by the Ministry of Culture. Other options are to download the Essential Art Walk and Second Canvas applications –featuring tours of the Spanish National Library, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and the Prado Museum– or check out the Google Arts & Culture online project. Its large collection of high-resolution images (7,000 megapixels) includes some of the masterpieces that can normally be viewed in person in Madrid.

Although there are a lot of people who haven’t been able to visit us these days, our museums will soon open their doors to the public once again. #Yomequedoencasa (#Imstayinghome).

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