Museo del Prado Responds to Loss of 885 Artworks

The Museo Nacional del Prado.
Photo: Museo Nacional del Prado.

Following reports on artnet News and other outlets that Madrid’s Museo Nacional del Prado had lost track of some 885 artworks in its permanent collection—down from 926, after the recovery of 41 pieces, but still alarming—the museum has issued a statement seeking to downplay the loss. The museum explains that the “lost” works were first reported missing over three decades ago, and that the latest recommendation from the Tribunal de Cuentas to track down the missing objects has appeared in every Fiscalía General de Reino audit since 1978.

The statement further explains the cause for the quagmire:

Most of the missing works were added to the Prado’s inventories at the time when the collections of the now defunct Museo de la Trinidad were added to those of the Museum in 1872. Many of the works from the Museo de la Trinidad were dispersed from that date onwards without ever actually entering the Prado’s collections. In addition to that significant number of works, the location of which is not known for the above reason, the report also identified a second large, unlocated group. These are works that were sent on long-term deposit (temporary or indefinite) to other institutions from the now defunct Museo de Arte Moderno, the collections of which were added to those of the Prado in 1971. In this case, many of the works never entered the Prado as they were on long-term deposit with other institutions, nor was there even a complete inventory of the Museum’s holdings.

So, you see, it’s really the Museo de la Trinidad and the Museo de Arte Moderno’s faults. The Museo del Prado, for its part, outlines its extensive documentation of works it loans to other institutions:

After more than three decades of ongoing work by successive directors, deputy directors, curatorial departments, the registrar’s office and the Museum’s departments of documentation and restoration, it can be stated that the 3,310 works on deposit with 278 institutions are all fully monitored (despite the enormous complexity involved in their administration and supervision), while the recipient institutions are required to fulfil guarantees regarding their security and preservation. In addition, and with regard to the same time-frame, works not located following a comparison of the old inventories with the systematic checks on these deposits, have gone down in number from the 1,425 noted in the above-mentioned audit of 1978 to 885 in the present day (748 of which relate to the addition of the holdings of the defunct Museo de la Trinidad in 1872 and the Museo de Arte Moderno in 1971, as noted above). The Museum has maintained the policy of not deleting any work from its inventories without certain knowledge of its destruction or permanent disappearance.

Read the whole statement here.

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