The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, also called the Museo Reina Sofía, (Queen Sofía Museum), is the national museum for 20th century art in Spain. The museum was officially inaugurated in Madrid in 1992 and is named after the Queen of Spain. The museum is mainly dedicated to Spanish art with highlights including Spain’s two greatest 20th century masters, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali.
Probably the most famous masterpiece in the museum is Picasso’s 1937, oil on canvas painting, Guernica. The grey, black and white, mural-size, canvas was created after the bombing of the village of the same name, in the Basque Country in Northern Spain, during the Spanish Civil War.
Guernica shows the tragedies of war and the suffering it inflicts, particularly on innocent civilians. Upon completion, Guernica was first exhibited in France and then entrusted to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
The painting traveled extensively in the United States and was then shown in Brazil and major European cities, before returning to MoMA for Picasso’s 75th birthday exhibition. Concern grew over the state of the painting which resulted in a decision to keep it in one place, at the MoMA until in 1981 it was finally surrendered to Spain.
Guernica was first displayed in Spain in an annex of the Prado Museum that housed early 19th-century paintings and had a large enough wall for the huge canvas. Although mention is frequently made of the painting’s “return” to Spain, this is not entirely true as it was painted in Paris. It was moved to its current permanent location in the Museo Reina Sofía in 1992, but not without controversy as Picasso’s will stated that the painting should be displayed at the Prado.
The Basque Country also stakes its claim to the painting as Basque nationalists support the idea that Guernica should be brought to the Basque country, even more so after the building of the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum. Officials at the Reina Sofía claim that the canvas is now thought to be too fragile to move. While the Guggenheim does not see a permanent transfer of the painting possible, the Basque government continues to support the possibility of a temporary exhibition in Bilbao.
The Reina Sofia collection also includes works by artists such as: Joan Miró, Antoni Tàpies, Pablo Gargallo, Pablo Serrano and Lucio Muñoz. There are few international artists in the collection but there are works by Robert Delaunay, Yves Tanguy, Man Ray, Damien Hirst, Julian Schnabel, Wolf Vostell, Clyfford Still and Georges Braque among others, as well as a large work by Francis Bacon.
The Reina Sofia Museum stands at the southern end of Madrid’s Golden Triangle of Art which also includes the Museo del Prado and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.
Join us on a fantastic Food, Wine and Cultural Tour of Spain to appreciate Great Art, Gourmet Food and Fine Wines. Our Highlights of Spain Luxury Tour takes in Madrid, giving you a chance to visit the Reina Sofia Museum as well as the Prado and the Thyssen-Bornemisza.