Good summer for major Spanish museums

by Lorraine Williamson
Spanish museums -,_Bilbao,_July_2010_(06).JPG

MADRID – The Prado, Reina Sofía, Thyssen, and other major Spanish museums have doubled their summer visitor numbers compared to the same period last year. Although far from reaching pre-pandemic levels. 

The end of mobility restrictions, the increase in tourism, and progress in the vaccination process are the fundamental factors of this increase. In Madrid, the number of visitors to the Prado Museum has risen from 141,508 in June, July, and August last year to 298,022 this summer. That is almost double, although still far from the summer of 2019 (819,998 visitors). 

The Reina Sofía Museum (MNCARS) also doubled the numbers: this summer it received more than half a million visitors (547,914, with data as of August 30) compared to 249,681 last year. However, there is still a long way to go from the 1.3 million visitors to the three locations in the summer of 2019. 

The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum follows a similar path. In the summer months of June, July, and August, it received 158,431 visitors compared to 77,287 last year and 232,717 in 2019. 

The data is far from reaching pre-pandemic levels due to the decline in international tourism, which in the case of major museums in Madrid accounted for three in four visitors before the pandemic. 

Slow but sustained rise 

Visitor data for these three museums in Madrid, broken down by months, since the beginning of the year, reflect a slow but sustained increase with a rebound between March and April until the start of summer. For example, the Prado received 24,034 visitors in January, a fifth of the number in August (111,115). 

Bilbao, Malaga and Barcelona 

Likewise, in the case of other major Spanish museums, the experience is similar this summer. The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is also doubling compared to 2020, with approximately 202,667 (June, July, and August), compared to 93,673 in the same period of the previous year. 

According to the museum in Bilbao, the origin of visitors has changed over the year: this summer it was almost the same for national (51%) and foreign (49%) visitors. And in the first six months of the year, the was share 84% vs 16%. 

In Barcelona, ​​​​​​at the National Art Museum of Catalonia (Mnac), the visits of the past three months (176,420) exceed those of last year (210,465). However, they are still far from the usual levels (in 2019 with 837,694 ). 

Visits to the Museu Picasso in Barcelona between June and August also grew strongly. According to the gallery, there are around 100,000, an 80% increase compared to the summer of 2020. But again, still far from the over 300,000 visitors in 2019. 

The Museo Picasso Málaga has had half the influx this summer than before the pandemic, a museum spokesman said. But it is much better than last year. According to data from the museum, the number of visitors has increased by 110% compared to the summer of 2020. 

When interpreting these figures, it should be borne in mind that most state museums opened their doors last summer with reduced capacity. Also mobility restrictions varied greatly from region to region. In Barcelona, ​​perimeter restrictions were maintained until a few months ago. This significantly affected the influx of the local public. Which in the case of the Mnac, for example, made up half of their visits. 

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