Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas, Madrid, Spain

Category: Madrid

The Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas, or in English, the National Museum of Decorative Arts, is one of the many museums in Madrid that make this world capital such an exciting place to live and visit.  Located at 12 Montalbán Street, just south of the Puerta de Alcala and to the western side of the Buen Retiro Park, the museum is situated within the so-called “Golden Triangle of Art” and is one of the oldest museums in the city.  Much like the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas showcases the evolution and history of industrial arts, including furniture, ceramic, glass and textiles.  Of particular emphasis are the collections from the 16th and 17th centuries, and the museum itself is home to nearly 40,000 pieces of decorative art, including a considerable quantity of items from the Arabic world, particularly from the countries of Morocco and Turkey.  The museum features 62 exhibition rooms, and each year draws approximately 25,000 visitors.

Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas: History

The Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas was established by Royal Decree in 1912, under the name National Museum of Industrial Arts.  The first stage of its existence was geared towards research and education rather than tourism—a place for artisans, manufacturers and designers to learn more about the history of their craft.  The name changed to the Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas several years later, and since that time it has focused mainly on collecting and displaying items from the Golden Age.  Through the years, the museum has occasionally collaborated with other nations.  One such instance was in 1933, when it collaborated with the country of Mexico for an artistic exhibition.

The museum was originally housed in a building on Sacramento Street in El Madrid de los Austrias, where it occupied but six rooms.  However, in 1932 it moved to its current site on Montalban Street, between the Paseo del Prado and Retiro Park—a very popular and well-traveled tourist district in Madrid.  At this location it now occupies a 19th century mansion, built by the Duchess of Santoña in the 1880s, a building that was purchased by the State in 1941.  This move allowed for some initial renovation and considerable expansion to the museum, and in 1962, the building, which now operates 62 separate rooms on five floors, was declared a Bien de Interes Cultural.

Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas:  Collection

The Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas is one of the largest and most treasured museums in Madrid.  Tourists to the museum can spend hours getting lost in a variety of interesting exhibits and collections, featuring both ethnographic and artistic pieces that include furniture, ceramics, jewelry, textiles and Oriental Arts. The primary focus of the museum is on Decorative Arts of Spain, however, there are many items from foreign lands, particularly ceramics and other luxury items from an early date.  Many of the exhibits recreate whole rooms designed in a given period-style, such as the 18th century Spanish kitchen, complete with original furnishings and tile.

Of the roughly 40,000 pieces owned by the Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas, roughly one-third of these are on loan to other museums throughout the city and country, such as the Real Fábrica de Cristales de La Granja.