I am not one for art. I know art is an important aspect of any culture, and I love seeing public art. However I don’t know much about fine art. Sure I can name some famous artists, and works of fine art. If I go to an art museum though I’ll just end up wandering around without understanding what I’m seeing. Being an art newbie I was excited for a chance to go on a Context Tour of the Museo Nacional del Prado (The Prado Museum) while I was in Madrid.
The Prado, along with the Reina Sofía Museum, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is part of the Golden Triangle of Art in Madrid. The Prado focuses on pre-20th century art, and includes with works from artists like Goya, El Greco, Rubens, among many others. If I were to go to The Prado on my own I’d skim through the descriptions and I wouldn’t understand what I was seeing. With Context Tours I got a tour led by an Art Historian. Plus each tour has a maximum of 6 people, which means you get a very personalized tour experience.
As it turned out (and very lucky for me) the other people who were supposed to be on my tour didn’t show up, which meant I got a private tour of The Prado. My guide Barbara was fantastic, and the tour started well before we got inside the The Prado. The tour doesn’t cover every piece of art or every room in The Prado. This museum is massive, and seeing every piece of art in depth would probably take weeks. That said we got to see some of the highlights of The Prado, as well as several art pieces and artists I’d knew nothing about.
I don’t want to give everything about the tour away, but doing this tour was fantastic. If I had gone on my own I would have had no clue what I was seeing. When I look at art I don’t know what I’m looking at or should be looking at. While the museum has information plaques beside each piece (in Spanish and English), as well as paid audio guides it was nice to have someone in person, someone who knew about art to tell me about some of the pieces in the museum.
During my tour there were details I was shown that I would have never focused on if I was there alone. I learned about different art periods, different techniques, and the various “meanings” of different pieces, including within the context of Spanish history (something I won’t pretend to know a lot about). Best of all if I had a question or wanted more information I had an expert I could ask directly in person (rather than me trying to get on Google and sift through all the information there).
I’m still not an art expert and visiting art museums and galleries all day long will never be my thing, but I definitely have a better understanding of some art pieces and artists after taking this tour. There’s something to be said for seeing a piece of art in person (when possible) rather than just looking at the postcard version of it, or a picture of it online. I’m glad I got a chance to see the art at The Prado in person and learn more about it through Context Tours.
Stay tuned. On the next post on Take Me to the World I’ll share some of the life lessons I came across while visiting The Prado.
The Museo Nacional del Prado or Prado Museum is located along the Paseo del Prado in Madrid. A map of the location is below.
Disclaimer: Context Tours offered me a complimentary tour of The Prado Museum. Links within this post are for informational purposes only. All opinions within this post are my own.