Prado Museum Extention
The new site for the extension of the Prado Museum included the Jéronimos Cloister, its surrounding perimeter, and the area between the back of the Museum and the Ruiz de Alarcón Street.
To make room for the extention Moneo excavated the area between the Prado and the Cloister placing the new entrance hall, and the temporary exhibition galleries, below the restored Cloister.
The extension is a new chapter in the Prado’s long life. The roof of the new entrance hall is hidden beneath an box-hedged garden.
The only decorative element on the otherwise simple, plain facade of brick, glass and stone, with its two story portico of fluted pillars, is a set of massive bronze doors by the artist Cristina Iglesias.
The special attention given to the precision of the brick walls that emphasize the edges can be seen in the corner next to the church where the volume has undergone a careful process of erosion that reveals the concrete structure and the arches of the Cloister.
The extension maintains the longitudinal nature of the old building and establishes a transverse axis from the reopened Velázquez gate to the Cloister.
The Velázquez entrance connects to the new apse shaped entrance hall that serves as an intersection where the existing Prado Museum and the recently built extension overlap.
This hall, with its Pompeian red stucco walls, embellished with the Muses excavated from the Villa Adriana, is the heart of the museum.
Glazed passages embrace the open court surrounding the apse and lead to the trapezoidal space of the main foyer in which one of the longer sides coincides with the back of the Museum and the other with the alignment of the Ruiz de Alarcón Street.
The main foyer, a generous open space cut into the slope, contains ticket sales, checkrooms, restrooms, information, as well as the cafeteria/restaurant, bookshop and museum store.
From here you reach the new galleries for temporary exhibitions.
The geometry and the perimeter of the Cloister determined the guidelines for the plan of the new building and the dimensions of the two below ground galleries. A light well/lantern cut through the Cloister’s floor brings light down to the galleries below.
The Cloister can be understood as a lantern that illuminates the new building, as a work of art that has been incorporated in the Museum’s collections and as an architectural element that gives meaning to all that is built around it. The Cloisters receives daylight through a new skylight.
The Cloister is all of these things at once, but it is also a reference to the past, a testimony to what was being built in the times of Philip IV, patron of Velázquez.