The Prado Museum Is Expecting to Lose 70 Percent of Its Income as It Prepares to Reopen With Limited Capacity

The museum has postponed its 2020 exhibitions indefinitely, and is still not sure when it can reopen.

The Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain. Photo: Patricia J. Garcinuno/Getty Images.

The outlook is increasingly bleak for the world’s most famous museums, as institutions begin to account for the fact that social distancing will need to continue for the foreseeable future. In Madrid, the board of directors at the Museo del Prado is planning for a 70 percent setback in income.

Spain was of the nations in Europe that was hardest hit by the global health situation, but businesses are slowly creaking back open. The museum, which is known for its impressive collection of Old Masters including Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez, is beginning to work on a multi-step “de-escalation plan” that will culminate in reopening its doors to the public. There is no set opening date, and a spokesperson from the Prado confirms that they are awaiting further information from the government, and that any dates that are set could be changed.

On Tuesday this week, the president of the museum’s board of trustees, Javier Solana, and the museum’s director, Miguel Falomir, video conferenced with Spain’s royal family, King Felipe and Queen Letizia, to discuss the “concerning” financial situation, according to El País. The king and queen are honorary trustees of the historic museum.

In addition to lost income from ticket sales, the 70 percent projected loss considers missed revenues from its boutique, cafeteria, catalog sales, audio guides, as well as space rentals for filming and events. It calculates that it has lost €1 million ($1.1 million) every two weeks since it was forced to close on March 12, according to a report in El País from early April.

The museum’s finances are slumping after a high note. In 2019, which saw major bicentennial celebrations, the Prado broke its attendance record with 3.2 million visitors and reported €22.6 million ($24.5 million) in revenue from ticketing sales. And while its physical attendance is now nil, the museum has successfully transformed into the virtual sphere. According to a press statement, visitors to its website increased by 258 percent since lockdown began, and there was a 190 percent increase in social media interactions as compared with previous months.

The Prado has a collection of more than 8,600 works including pieces by Francisco de Goya, Raphael, Velázquez, and Hieronymus Bosch. The planned exhibition “Uninvited Guests. Episodes on Women, Ideology and the Visual Arts in Spain (1833-1931)” was set to open at the end of March, but it has been postponed indefinitely.

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