Madrid’s Best Art Museums: Lesser-Known Gems

April 22, 2014 • Travel Tips • Views: 5162

While the Prado might be the largest and most popular art museum in Madrid, it’s certainly not the only one worth visiting. Madrid has been home to a number of influential artists and art collectors, and it would be a real shame to leave the city without seeing their collections. Many of these artists’ homes have been turned into private museums of their collections. Though small, they can still provide hours of amusement and are often a relaxing reprieve from the crowded, gargantuan halls of the city’s more famous museums. Take a chance and check out these small museums—you might just find they’re your favorites!


Museo Cerralbo

This underrated gem was once the home of the Marquis of Cerralbo, Mr. Enrique de Aguilera y Gamboa (1845-1922). The Marquis traveled extensively through Europe, collecting over 50,000 pieces for his family’s private collection. His collection was considered to be one of the best private collections in the country, both in quality and diversity. Here you’ll find paintings, ceramics, tapestries, sculptures, drawings, clocks, coins, armor, archaeological finds, medals, books, and much more. Want a sneak peek before you visit? The museum’s website offers a ‘virtual tour’ of its most eminent pieces. The museum is located next to the Plaza de España. Admission to the museum is only €3, and is free on Sundays.

Museo Lazaro Galdiano

Like the Cerralbo, this museum was once the home of a prestigious Spanish doctor. Dr. Jose Lazaro Galdiano lived here until his death in 1947, and since he had no children or heirs, he left his home and collection to the Spanish government. He held one of the most highly regarded private art collections in Europe, including paintings by Goya, Velázquez, and El Greco that are on display today. The first floor contains the jewel collection of Galdiano’s wife, many with huge diamonds and representative of early 20th century high culture. The second and third floors are devoted to paintings, with each room representing a different theme. The ceilings of the home are painted with gorgeous frescoes and have beautiful hanging Venetian chandeliers. The museum is closed on Tuesdays. Admission is €6, although with a reservation you can take a guided tour for just €2 more.


Museo Sorolla

This museum was once the home of Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla. After his death in 1923, his widow left his paintings to the Spanish public; and after her death in 1932, their home became a public museum for his collection. Though small, this museum is well-regarded and always enjoyed by visitors. It provides a fascinating glimpse into the life of the famous painter. The museum is open Tuesday through Friday, and admission costs just €3.

Fundación Mapfre Sala Recoletas

Spanish insurance company Mapfre created this non-profit foundation in 1975, which aims to contribute to Spanish culture and society. The foundation has acquired a small but excellent art collection, including pieces by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Daniel Vázquez Díaz, José Gutiérrez Solana, and more. These works are displayed in their Sala Recoletas buildings, located close to the National Library of Spain, the Parque del Retiro, and the Wax Museum of Madrid (el Museo de Cera). Other works of art on display include photographs, drawings, and etchings. The art museum is completely free and open every day of the week.

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