Spain is giving the Prado Museum €36 million ($42 million) to fund a vast expansion. The country’s council of ministers approved the budget, which will be allotted over the next three years, so that the museum can revamp the Hall of Realms next door, which it recently acquired.
Expansion plans have been in the works for six years, but have been delayed by the pandemic, as well as tense political and financial climates in Spain. The updated museum is now expected to open to the public in 2024, according to El País, which first reported the news.
The project will create a connection route between the Prado’s building and the Hall of Realms, a 17th-century palace that once housed large paintings from the Royal Collection. The Hall of Realms, which is adorned with murals and friezes, will also undergo a major update. Works that once hung in its halls but now reside in the Prado may also be returned, potentially including paintings by Diego Velázquez.
The Prado took over the building with plans to create the extension in 2012. Foster and Partners L.T.D. and Rubio Arquitectura won the design competition with a vision titled “Hidden Trace,” which includes a large access atrium as well as adding a third floor and terrace to the Hall of Kingdoms. It will give the museum an additional 27,000 square feet of exhibition space.
The museum will receive the funds in stages: the first €8.3 million will come next year, another €20.8 million in 2023, and the final €7.2 million in 2024.
The funds are not part of the ministry of culture’s usual budget. El Diaro reports that they are being treated as a “special credit line,” given a “legal shortcut” so that they need not be considered alongside the ministry’s general budgets.