The Prado Museum opened its doors to the public for the first time as the Museo Nacional de Pinturas y Esculturas [National Museum of Paintings and Sculptures] on 19 November 1819. However, the Neo-classical building designed by Juan de Villanueva that now houses the Prado was originally the home of the Natural History Collection, commissioned by Charles III in 1785. On the 194th anniversary of the Museum’s founding and to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the death of Villanueva, this project by Miguel Ángel Blanco now pays homage to the Prado’s history and to the little known origins of its building as a Natural History museum.
The Madrid born Blanco, who is one of the principal Spanish artists directly associated with nature, emphasises the Museum’s historical side through 22 interventions that aim to fuse art and nature, located in the galleries of the Permanent Collection. Animal, vegetable and mineral objects selected by Blanco from Spanish natural history collections such as those of the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, the Real Jardín Botánico and the Museo de la Farmacia Histórica, establish a dialogue with the paintings and sculptures in the Museum and “intervene” to take the visitor on a new “scientific-artistic” expedition.
The exhibit runs from 19 November 2013 – 27 April 2014. This six-minute video, commented by the artist and curator Miguel Ángel Blanco, with subtitles in English, explains the objectives and execution of his Natural Histories project. Here’s the link:
Video courtesy of the Prado Museum