Madrid, crisis casts shadow on 'Golden Triangle' museums

Prado, Thyssen suffer from plunge in Capital's tourism

03 January, 13:46

    Prado museum, Madrid Prado museum, Madrid

    (by Paola Del Vecchio) (ANSAmed) - MADRID, JANUARY 3 - The Spanish capital's Golden Triangle of art has lost its glow, faded by the sharp drop in the number of tourists since 2013.

    Madrid is a city hit by a counter-trend from that seen in tourism in general in the country, which may set a new record high of 60 million visitors. In 2013, the Prado Museum - the main one of the triangle comprising the Thyssen and Reina Sofia museums - attracted 2,306,966 visitors, 15% less than in 2012 (half a million fewer people), despite the museum keeping its doors open on Mondays for the first time. Moreover, according to the figures released Friday, the proportion of visitors with free tickets was 53%. Of the total, 80% were individual visits and 20% group ones, with an increase in the number of school trips (6.7%). Ticket proceeds totaled 13,001,871 euros, compared with 14,093,543 euros the previous year. But the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum had an even worse time of it, despite temporary exhibitions able to draw in large crowds, such as one on Pissarro and Impresionismo y Aire Libre: de Corot a Van Gogh: at 944,827 visits, the museum suffered a 25% drop in the number of visitors from the previous year, when it had hit the record high of 1,256,209. The museum is readying to make a comeback in the year that has just begun, with a large exhibition on Cezanne (from February 4 to May 18) and a monographic exhibition by Dario de Regoyos (from February 18 to June 1). But the strong point will be the retrospective on Valentino Garavani - which has already racked up a record number of visitors at London's Somerset House Gallery - with which from October 7, 2014 to January 18, 2015, the Thyssen will be opening its doors to high-street fashion for the first time. The Reina Sofia instead did well in 2013, mostly due to its exhibition on Dalì, visited by 700,000 people, as well as - noted director Manuel Borja-Villel - the success of the previous shows on Cristina Iglesias and the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Foundation, which doubled takings in a single year from 4,434,348 euros to 8,376,000 euros. Away from the capital, even such a legendary museum as the Bilbao Guggenheim saw a drop in visitors: 8% fewer than in 2012 despite the 580,000 for the L'Art en Guerre exhibition and the over 400,00 for the Riotous Baroque - from Cattelan to Zurbaran one. Some 65% of the tourists were foreigners from France, Great Britain, Germany, the United States and Italy. In response to the economic crisis, the Guggenheim will continue the ERDU program granting free access to the unemployed for all of 2014.

    The program was introduced in April 2013. The museum has also said that it ended the year with 24,174,098 euros, 69% from self-financing. These shadows cast on the world of art do not, nevertheless, extend to the bright future for the tourist sector in Spain.

    According to the official data released thus far, there were up until November some 58.6 million foreign visitors to the country (5% more than the same period the previous year), and the outlook puts the number of total visitors during the year at 60 million, a record high for the sector. This excellent performance was made possible by the reactivation of demand among European tourists thanks to a slight economic recovery and the difficulties being experience by Mediterranean competitors, especially Egypt - where political instability has caused many tourists to opt for Spain instead. The boom in presences has also led to a record high in tourism revenue at over 45.1 billion euros in 2013. (ANSAmed).

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