Reina Sofia Museum. Museum in Madrid, Spain

Reina Sofia Museum

Museum in Madrid, Spain

Afternoon at the Sofia Reina 2 Photo © Steve Thompson

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Reina Sofia Museum

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The Reina Sofia Museum is Spain’s national museum of art from the 20th century. It is known by many names, including the Museo Reina Sofia, the Queen Sofia Museum, El Reina Sofia, and The Sofia, but its official name is Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. The museum is located in the east of the historic city center of Madrid and is part of the Golden Triangle of Art, a triangle formed by three renowned art museums – the other two are the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum (Wikipedia Article) and the Prado Museum.

Housed in a former hospital, the Reina Sofia Museum is dedicated mostly to Spanish 20th-century art and has extensive collections of works by painters such as Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro, and Salvador Dali. There aren’t that many works by international artists, but there are some, including paintings by Max Ernst, Georges Braque, and Gabriel Orozco. Additionally, the museum also has a huge art library with more than 100,000 books.


The history of the main building begins in 1566, when King Philip II decided that all hospitals in Madrid were to be located under one roof. They were centralized at this location and became known as the General Hospital. By the end of the 18th century, the need for a larger hospital had become undeniable. King Ferdinand VI ordered the construction of a larger hospital. It was designed by architect, de Hermosilla, and his successor, Sabatini, who, in fact, did most of the work. The building underwent many renovations, modifications and additions before it was closed as a hospital in 1969.

The building was declared in National Historic Monument in 1977 and renovations began in 1980. The remodeling and converting of the building into a museum was completed in the late 1980s. Many works of art were transferred from the Prado Museum and it became Spain’s national museum of modern and contemporary art.

Collections and Highlights

Mainly focused on Spanish art, the Reina Sofia Museum houses world-renowned collections of works by artists like Picasso, Dali, Gris, Miro and Serrano. The museum encompasses the main venue, which includes the Sabatini Building and the Nouvel Building, and two venues in Buen Retiro Park that house free temporary exhibitions. The main building is also home to an art library holding more than 100,000 books, more than 3,500 sound recordings and nearly 1,000 videos.

Sabatini and Nouvel Buildings

The Sabatini Building and the smaller Nouvel Building are located right next to one another and make up the main venue of the museum. Two floors are used for temporary exhibitions, while the other two floors house the permanent collection, covering styles like Pop, Abstract, and Minimal Art. The absolute highlight of the museum is Picasso’s Guernica, which is probably the most famous painting from the 20th century. Other masterpieces are Woman in Blue by Picasso, Portrait II by Miro, The Gathering at the Café del Pombo by Solana, and Landscapes at Cadaqués by Dali.

Buen Retiro Park Venues

The venues at the beautiful Buen Retiro Park, only a few minutes away on foot, are located in the stylish Palacio de Velazquez and the magnificent Palacio de Cristal and house free temporary exhibitions.

Visiting the Reina Sofia Museum

The museums in the Sabatini and Nouvel Buildings are open every day of the week, except on Tuesdays, on January 1; January 6, May 1; May 15, September 9; December 24, December 25; and December 31. On Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the buildings are open between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. On Sunday they can be visited from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. General admission is €8 ($9.20); temporary exhibits cost €4 ($4.60). Admission is free on Monday between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., from Wednesday through Saturday between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., and on Sunday between 1.30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The venues in Buen Retiro Park are open between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. from April through September, and between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. from October through March. Admission to those venues is free.

How to Get There

Located in the eastern part of the city center, the Reina Sofia Museum can easily be reached on foot. Several bus routes stop near the museum as well, and the nearest subway stations are Atocha (line M1) and Lavapies (line M3). The museum also lies within walking distance from Atocha Station, the main train station in the city. People traveling by car can park at Atocha Station or at Plaza Sanchez Bustillo; visitors who get around on a bicycle can store their bikes at the entrance to the Plaza Nouvel and on either side of the entrance to the Sabatini Building.

Similar and Nearby Landmarks

Other major attractions that lie only a few minutes’ walk away are the great Buen Retiro Park, the world-renowned Prado Museum and Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. Landmarks elsewhere in Madrid that are worth visiting as well include the Puerta del Sol, the Royal Palace Madrid and the Gran Via.

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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Apr 02, 2015

Pictures of Reina Sofia Museum

Reina Sofia Museum Extension - Reina Sofia Museum
Reina Sofia Museum Extension - Photo by Wojtek Gurak

Reina Sofia Museum Extension - Reina Sofia Museum
Reina Sofia Museum Extension - Photo by Wojtek Gurak

Reina Sofía Museum's restaurant - Reina Sofia Museum
Reina Sofía Museum's restaurant - Reina Sofia Museum. Photo by Xosé Castro Roig


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