The building where the museum was opened was originally constructed to be used for other purposes in 1785. However, it was upon Queen Maria Isabel de Braganza's insistence that the building was converted into a museum!
Designed by Juan de Villanueva, there was special attention given to the design of the museum, to give it a National Museum look. It was commissioned by Charles III.
Even though the construction of the museum began in 1785, it was only in 1819 that it was opened to the public under Ferdinand VII. The interruptions were caused due to the Napoleonic Wars.
The museum was originally known as the Royal Museum, later on, it was called the National Museum of Painting and Sculpture, only to be finally renamed as the Museo del Prado or the Prado Museum!
Originally the Royal Museum of Painting that was opened to the public in 1819 had fewer collections. It was only in 1868 that the museum grew into National Museum of Prado, after the exile of Isabella II. It was Isabella II who enlarged the collection with paintings from the palaces and the Escorial!
Initially, the museum showcased royal arts and collections. It was only in 1918, that the collection at the museum grew, with the museum's expansion.
A collection of 5000 paintings, 1000 medals and coins, 2000 decorative objects and items alongside a vast collection of sculptures and 1300 famous paintings that are considered Spain's best, are featured at the museum!
A collection of Pablo Picasso's famous paintings have also found a place in the museum.
Guernica, Pablo Picasso's painting that was earlier displayed at the Prado museum was later shifted to Museo Reina Sofia, as Prado Museum's main aim was to focus on work created in the 1800s or earlier!
The collections at the museum are divided into three floors where the ground floor contains collections and sculptures from 1100 to 1600, the first-floor displays paintings from 1550 to 1800 while the second floor showcases paintings from 1700 to 1850!
Works of famous artists such as El Greco, Francisco de Goya, Raphael, Velazquez, Rembrandt, Murillo, Peter Paul Rubens, and the like are on display at the museum.
The 'Las Meninas' by Diego Velazquez is known to be the best painting in the museum.
The museum along with Museo Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum forms the Golden Triangle of Art!
The first catalogue that went public in 1819 only focused on 311 Spanish paintings! However, there are many more paintings inside the museum that are Spanish centric.
Due to the increasing collection at the museum, almost 100 years after it officially opened, the museum ran out of space! An additional building was acquired to display the collection.
Again in the 1950s and 1960s, additions were done to the building space.
The Palacio de Villahermosa and Cason del Buen Retiro are the two edifices that were built to accommodate the growing collection at the museum!
In 2005, a latest 235,000 square feet wing was added to the museum that was designed by Rafael Moneo.
For the first time in history, a collection of Italian masterpieces were allowed to be showcased in Melbourne, Australia in 2014.
In 2012, the museum was visited by 2.8 million visitors, making it one of the most-visited sites in the world!