The Reina Sofia: a good place to spend the night?

I have mixed feelings about museums.  I love the concept of public knowledge and art.  Brilliant.  But sometimes the environment is a bit stifling (read: museums are boring. also. awkward).  Everyone moves slowly.  Talks quietly.  Thinks intellectual thoughts.  Oh yes, I enjoy the intellectual stimulation of a world famous Velazquez painting…  I also enjoying wondering how women fit through doorways in those really wide dresses.  Maybe they walked sideways.  Or maybe they commissioned buildings with bigger doors.  I bet it was pretty exciting when they shifted from hip padding to butt padding.  Lesser of two evils at least.  Imagine if you introduced any of those women to leggings.  Heaven.  Omg it would have felt like heaven.  I do really love leggings.  In fact I think I’m due for a new pair.  H&M afterwards and… oh, shit I’m supposed to be looking at this Velazquez painting and thinking lofty intellectual thoughts.   Sorry Diego.

Velazquez, Las Meninas, 1656

And this is how it goes for the next three hundred paintings.  Legs get tired around number 40.  Requires sitting on benches.  Which only encourages more people watching and mind wandering.

But the point of the story.  I’m not a huge museum person.  Yet, I’m growing quite fond of the Reina Sofia.  It’s a lot chiller than its neighbor the Prado and less crowded.  Case in point: I stopped by last Wednesday during free hours and the fourth floor was almost empty.  Nowhere in Europe will you find this.  People will wait in hour long lines in the cold to get into the Louvre, the Uffizi, the D’Orsey.  At the Reina Sofia you can go for free, see some of the world’s best art, and have the entire fourth floor to yourself to think about how awesome that sweet potato you are going to cook for dinner will be.  Beat that.

The modern architecture of the Reina Sofia.

The Basics:

  • Official Name: Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia
  • Address: Calle Santa Isabel 52 Madrid 28012 (That’s the same zip code as me!)
  • Inaugurated: September 1992
  • Visitors per year: 2 million
  • Primary holdings: mostly contemporary Spanish art from the 20th century; Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, Pablo Serrano, and I won’t pretend that I’ve actually heard of anyone else that they have in there…
  • Most famous work: Guernica.  Picasso’s depiction of the bombing of a Bask town in northern Spain during the Spanish Civil War.
  • Free hours: Monday to Friday 7pm to 9pm (closed Tuesdays); Saturdays 2:30pm to 9pm; Sundays 10am to 2:30pm

Fun Facts:

  • The security guards that are stationed in each room will spend a week in that room.  Then they move to another room.
  • According to a friendly security guard: the best room in the museum is 207.  The main piece in the room is A World which Angeles Santos Torroella painted when he was 17.  Thank you for helping me feel satisfied and accomplished with my life.  The room also holds several beautiful works by Dalí.
  • Free movie?  Check out room 408 on the fourth floor.  They show Rear Window by Alfred Hitchcock on repeat.
  • La vista: you can get a really good view of the city from some of the rooms on the fourth floor.
  • In case you want to pull a Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler* (aka: if you didn’t book a hostel/got evicted from you apartment/etc and need a place to stay for the night): They have free locker space.  The bathroom stalls are big–good for hiding in at closing time to escape museum security.  The sleeping situation, however, is not very promising: cold steel benches with no backs.  Food: bring your own.  Bonus: “learning stations” where you can read up on the artworks in case you get bored or can’t sleep.

*I apologize for the obscure reference.  If it makes you feel better it’s a novel of about 5th grade reading level.  It’s about a brother and sister who run away from home and live at the Met in NYC.  Life goal? Yes. Yes I think so.

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