Museo del Prado Director Miguel Zugaza Resigns After 15 Years to Head Bilbao Museum

He is leaving the museum at a crucial time.

Miguel Zugaza. Courtesy Museo del Prado, Madrid.
Miguel Zugaza. Courtesy Museo del Prado, Madrid.

Miguel Zugaza, who’s been at the helm of Madrid’s Museo del Prado for over 15 years, has announced that he’ll be stepping down from his position next year.

He also informed the board of trustees that he’ll be returning to the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, which he helmed from 1995 to 2001, as director. It’s current director, Javier Viar Olloqui, is retiring soon.

In a letter, Zugaza told Iñigo Méndez de Vigo, Spain’s minister of education, culture and sport, that he “considers the goals established during his term of office to have been fulfilled and expresses his thanks for all the support received.”

“The Museum is now embarking on a new and exciting phase with the focus on its bicentenary and on the completion of the Museo del Prado Campus with the addition of the Hall of Realms,” Zugaza added.

Indeed, Zugaza is leaving at a crucial time, before the 200th anniversary and the major expansion.

The minister, on his part, thanked Zugaza for his hard work and successful tenure, asking him to contribute to the bicentenary project in 2019.

Meanwhile, José Pedro Pérez-Llorca, president of the museum’s board of trustees stated that “the Museo del Prado will never be able to sufficiently express its thanks to Miguel Zugaza for his intelligence, wisdom, and imagination and the authority with which he has led the Museum. […] the results of his efforts, namely the great success of the Prado, speak for themselves.”

The Museo del Prado in Madrid. Courtesy the museum.

The Museo del Prado in Madrid. Courtesy the museum.

Zugaza—who can be credited with the modernization of Museo del Prado, including a vast extension in 2007 and the introduction of modern painters like Picasso and Francis Bacon into its galleries—will remain at the post until a successor is found.

A strong candidate, according to El País, is the museum’s deputy editor Miguel Falomir, who replaced Gabriele Finaldi when he left for London’s National Gallery last year.

Both the Prado and the Bilbao Fine Art Museum have agreed to collaborate with each other to facilitate the transition of directorship.

The minister, according to a release from the Prado, will propose to the Prado’s board of trustees the creation of a specific committee at the Madrid museum to that effect.

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