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Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

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The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is one of Madrid’s three topnotch art museums. It is part of the so-called Golden Triangle of Art, a triangle in the east of the historic city center formed by the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, the Prado Museum, and the Reina Sofia Museum. While the Prado Museum covers older works of art, such as the Dutch, early Italian, Flemish, and German schools, and the Reina Sofia Museum features modern and contemporary art, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum fills in the historical gaps between the two other museums’ collections. Its more than 1,600 paintings cover western art from the 14th through the 20th century. Once the private collection of Baron Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza (Wikipedia Article) – the second-largest private collection in the world, for that matter, second only to the British Royal Collection - now the magnificent collection of artworks is visited by nearly a million people per year.


The history of the collection begins in the 1920s, when Baron Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, a German-Hungarian industrial tycoon, started collecting paintings. In a time when many old European paintings had moved overseas to be added to the collections of wealthy Americans, one of the main sources of Thyssen-Bornemisza’s collection was American millionaires who had gotten in trouble because of the Great Depression (Wikipedia
	Article). Many works of art were transported back to Europe and included in the baron’s collection.

After the baron died, in 1947, his son, Hans Heinrich, became responsible for the collection. He expanded it greatly and turned it into one of the greatest private collections in the world. Originally, the collection was housed in the family’s private mansion in Switzerland, but Hans Heinrich decided to show the collection to the public in 1988. Several countries were interested, but he chose an 18th-century mansion in Madrid as the place to display his works of art. The mansion was converted into a museum, which opened to the public in 1992. The museum was expanded in 2004 in order to be able to house the collection of Baroness Thyssen-Bornemisza, an addition that brought the total number of artworks to more than 1,000.

Features and Highlights

The collection consists mainly of paintings, but there are some sculptures and other objects of art as well. All paintings are arranged in a chronological order, offering a fantastic overview of the history and evolution of western painting, from the primitive Flemish and Italian painters of the 14th century to the Pop Art of the 20th century. The elder baron was responsible for acquiring most of the Old Masters’ paintings, while his son focuses on modern and contemporary art.

One of the highlights of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum’s collection is the section with early European paintings. This includes works by early Italian painters like Uccello, Monaco, and Duccio, as well as paintings by Flemish and Dutch artists, such as van Eyck, van der Weyden, Memling, and Dürer.

Additional highlights are the works by some of the most renowned Renaissance, Rococo, and Baroque artists. Think painters like Caravaggio, Bellini, Rubens, Rembrandt, Fragonard, Van Dyck, and Gainsborough.

The section featuring modern and contemporary art houses works by world-famous artists, such as Monet, Renoir; van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec; Munch, Ensor; Kandinsky, Mondrian; Picasso, Dali; and Pollock.

This is truly one of the world’s greatest art museums, partially because all works come from an enormously impressive, private collection. After strolling through the galleries and admiring the dozens of masterpieces, visitors can rest their legs at the café-restaurant that offers a fine view of the museum’s garden.

Visiting the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

The museum is open every day of the year, except on January 1, May 1, and December 25. From Tuesday through Sunday, the museum is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; on Monday, it can be visited from noon to 4 p.m. On December 24 and December 31, it can be visited between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

General admission to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum’s permanent collections is €10 ($12) for adults and €7 ($8.05) reduced. Members of groups of seven or larger pay €8 ($9.20) each. The museum is free to visit on Mondays, between noon and 4 p.m. Temporary and traveling exhibition may require an additional entrance fee.

How to Get There

Located on the Paseo del Prado, one of Madrid’s main boulevards, in the east of the historic city center, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is easily reached on foot from pretty much anywhere in central Madrid. The nearest subway stations are Sevilla and Banco de España, both served by line M2. Atocha Station, the city’s main train station, lies within walking distance. Almost twenty bus lines stop nearby as well.

Similar and Nearby Landmarks

The other two museums in the Golden Triangle of Art, the Prado Museum and the Reina Sofia Museum, are absolutely worth visiting as well. The fantastic Buen Retiro Park and the Plaza de Cibeles lie practically next door, while the Calle Mayor and the Gran Via extend along and toward other Madrid landmarks.

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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Apr 02, 2015

Pictures of Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

Gallery - Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
Gallery - Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. Photo by Michael Jones

Clasp - Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
Clasp - Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. Photo by Albert

Tenderness - Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
Tenderness - Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. Photo by Albert

Bernardino Luini - Virgin & Child with Infant St John 1524 - Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
Bernardino Luini - Virgin & Child with Infant St John 1524 - Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. Photo by Michael Jones

Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza - Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza - Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. Photo by Shih-Pei Chang


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