Learning About Art at the Prado Museum in Madrid

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I am not one for art. I know art is an essential aspect of any culture, and I love seeing public art. However, I don’t know much about fine art. Sure I can name some famous artists and works of fine art. If I go to an art museum, I just end up wandering around without understanding what I’m seeing. Being an art newbie I was excited for a chance to go on a Context Tour of the Museo Nacional del Prado (The Prado Museum) while I was in Madrid.

The Prado, along with the Reina Sofía Museum, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is part of the Golden Triangle of Art in Madrid. The Prado focuses on pre-20th-century art and includes with works from artists like Goya, El Greco, Rubens, among many others. If I were to go to The Prado on my own, I’d skim through the descriptions, and I wouldn’t understand what I was seeing. With Context Tours, I got a tour led by an Art Historian. Plus each tour has a maximum of 6 people, which means you get a very personalized tour experience.

As it turned out (and very lucky for me) the other people who were supposed to be on my tour didn’t show up, which meant I got a private tour of The Prado. My guide Barbara was fantastic, and the tour started well before we got inside The Prado. The tour doesn’t cover every piece of art or every room in The Prado. This museum is massive, and seeing every piece of art in depth would probably take weeks. That said we got to see some of the highlights of The Prado, as well as several art pieces and artists I wasn’t familiar with.

I don’t want to give everything about the tour away, but doing this tour was fantastic. If I had gone on my own I would have had no clue what I was seeing. When I look at art I don’t know what I’m looking at or should be looking at. While the museum has information plaques beside each piece (in Spanish and English), as well as paid audio guides it was nice to have someone in person, someone who knew about art to tell me about some of the pieces in the museum.

Outside The Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain.

Outside The Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain.

Barbara showed me details on pieces that I would have never focused on if I was there alone. I learned about different art periods, different techniques, and the various “meanings” of different pieces, including within the context of Spanish history (something I won’t pretend to know a lot about). Best of all if I had a question or wanted more information I had an expert I could ask directly in person (rather than me trying to get on Google and sift through all the info there).

I’m still not an art expert and visiting art museums and galleries all day long will never be my thing, but I have a bit of better understanding of some art pieces and artists after taking this tour. There’s something to be said for seeing a piece of art in person (when possible) rather than just looking at the postcard version of10 am or a picture of it online. I’m glad I got a chance to see the art at The Prado in person and learn more about it through Context Tours.

Things You Should Know
The Museo Nacional del Prado or Prado Museum is located along the Paseo del Prado in Madrid, Spain.  The Prado is open from 10am to 8pm daily, except on Sundays and holidays when it closes at 7pm. Regular admission is €15. Context Tours offered me a complimentary tour of The Prado Museum, which included entry to the museum. All opinions within this post are my own.
While in Madrid I stayed at the Huespedes Dolcevita Hostel in a single private room with a balcony. There was a shared bathroom, free breakfast, and free WiFi. The hostel was in the LGBT friendly Chueca neighbourhood and was a 5-minute walk to the Chueca Metro station. If you’re looking for a private room in Madrid at a decent price (I paid about $25 for my room/night when I stayed), I highly recommend this hostel. You can book a room here.

Have you been to the Prado Museum before?

7 comments on “Learning About Art at the Prado Museum in Madrid

  1. Sounds amazing having a private tour guide around the museum, i can say lucky you! I love viisting art museums when i go to different places. Never been to Madrid yet but for sure Prado is on my list to visit!

  2. The Prado is a mighty looking museum. We caught the Madrid hop on hop off bus from in front but never went inside. The art work on show I side is impressive I believe and the tour you went on sounds amazing.

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