For all of 2017 I had unlimited access to the Museo del Prado, one of the finest art galleries in all the world.
Normally, the price of entry is 15€, but by subscribing to the Friends of the Museum foundation, you get a card that allows you to enter freely, and without having to queue.
Like the Louvre, or the New York Met, the Prado is so huge that it's impossible to take everything in in one day, and even 2 visits is not enough, given the inevitable fatigue and back ache that sets in after a few hours of intensive museum wandering. So I'd been wanting a pass like this in order to waltz in whenever I liked and not feel pressured to get round everything all at once, but appreciate the artworks in my own time. So, for Reyes last year, my girlfriend Silvia obliged and very thoughtfully gifted me a membership.
And on January 31st, 2018, my card expired. What have I done with my year in the Prado? What have I learned, what artworks have been fixed indelibly in my mind, what revelations did I receive? And more importantly, did I go more than 6 times in order to get my (Silvia's) money's worth?
Rather like a gym membership, I had such good intentions at the start of the year, such ambitions. I wanted to follow in the footsteps of Picasso, who as a teenager would skip class and instead pace the halls of the Prado, soaking up inspiration from the likes of Velázquez and El Greco. But work continually got in the way.
I think I probably did visit around 7 times but I by no means made the most of the opportunity, and now I feel a little sad about it. I avoided going during the weekends when it's busiest, and during the weekdays it ended up being very difficult to find the time.
Which is a great shame, because it's an amazing place, that I highly recommend. I haven't renewed my membership, because I can't afford it at the moment, but I will still keep going when I can, now that I know it's probably more realistic to pay each individual entry anyway. Also, although I don't know how busy it gets, apparently entry is free from 6pm (until 8pm when the museum closes) Monday to Saturday. So now there's no excuse for any of us!
In the next post I'll go into a bit of the history of the Museum and some of my favourite paintings in it.