HomeEuropeSpainThe Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid

The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid

The stunning collection of paintings, spanning a period of eight centuries, on display at the Museum of Madrid bears the name of Thyssen Bornemisza. It is thanks to his passion for art that anyone can admire the masterpieces of famous artists, from the Middle Ages to the present day, for an almost symbolic fee.

History of the collection

The first paintings were purchased in the 19th century by August Thyssen, founder of the financial and steel empire. Most of the masterpieces were collected by his youngest son, Heinrich Thyssen, who began buying up art from former migrants in the early 20th century, investing profitably. But there was also a spiritual attraction, as the son picked up a passion for collecting from his father. He received the title of baron by marrying the Hungarian baroness Margit Bornemisza de Cason. The family went to Switzerland, where the first exhibition of the collected masterpieces took place in a private gallery.

After the magnate’s death, the collection was divided up among his heirs, but it lost none of its significance and fame, as Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza now continued his father’s work. He was able to enrich his part of the collection with authentic masterpieces from several eras, including classicism, baroque, and key movements of the 20th century.

History of the museum

After his marriage to the Spanish beauty and beauty contest winner Carmen Cervera Soledad, the bulk of the collection was given to the Madrid museum on loan. This is how the general public gained access to this unique collection of paintings, sculptures, and graphics from several eras. In 1993, the Spanish government bought the entire collection. The new museum was opened in the Palacio de Villahermos in Plaza Canovas in Madrid and is named after the founder of the collection.

The modern look of the museum

The art collection was housed in the spacious halls of the Palacio Villahermosa. At first the three-story palace had enough room for it, but since the gallery founder’s family kept adding new masterpieces to the collection, it was decided to build an additional building. It is located on Marquez de Cubas Street. When planning the interior rooms, the idea of creating a single space for presentations and thematic exhibitions was taken as a basis. During the reconstruction of the main building a terrace was added to it, where in the warm season works restaurant, souvenir and bookstores were opened for visitors.

The modern look of the museum

The museum is part of the golden triangle of the capital of Spain, it is included in the program of sightseeing tours and organize separate trips here. Indeed, running through the halls is not for connoisseurs. Each exhibit is unique in its own way and requires the closest attention.

The museum space is divided into four segments:

  • the works of the old masters of the 13th-14th centuries;
  • Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo;
  • impressionism;
  • 19th century American painting.

Famous exhibits

Since Heinrich Bornemis collected not only paintings, but also tapestries, jewelry and ceramics, ivory and crystal works of art, and antique furniture, the art collection is very diverse. It is believed that the number of originals in the collection and storerooms of the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum has long ago exceeded a thousand and a half, as the museum representatives insist. Its building hosts educational events, thematic conferences, and concerts.

It is unreal to single out 1 or 2 gems in the exposition, all works of art have their own history and are worthy of admiration.

Auguste Rodin’s sculptures from the “Greek Pantheon” cycle are on display in the foyer. Twelve images were conceived, four were embodied in marble and all are in the Thyssen Bournemisa Museum.

The palace has a total of 16 halls, scattered chronologically and regionally. The monumental layer of European painting is opened by the 13th-century icon of Our Lady with the Child Jesus. Duccio’s original works on Christian motifs continue the exhibition. It is believed that the work of this master influenced the formation of Leonardo da Vinci’s style. Unique specimens, van Eyck’s monochrome grisaille, are a rarity in many European museums, and the Bornemis collection has them.

The collection of paintings from the 16th-19th centuries is represented by canvases by El Greco, Caravaggio, Rubens and Rembrandt. In continuation of the theme are the works of the masters of the New World.


Paintings by Degas and Monet are mostly seen in traveling exhibitions, which take place infrequently and for a strictly limited time. In the museum you can admire the works of the Impressionists at any time.

The 20th century is also very generously represented. Brush masterpieces are on the list:

  • Daly;
  • Picasso;
  • Roy Lichtenstein.

The avant-garde is represented by paintings by Chagall, Kandinsky, Annenkov and Malevich. They occupy a small segment of the exposition, but cause genuine interest of visitors.

To attract young people, museum staff hold themed exhibitions, provide access to the projection room, and work with other non-standard visual platforms. According to tourists, the location of the exhibits is very good. The principle of contrasts ensures constant novelty of impressions, so you can safely allocate a few hours to visit the museum or return here again, visiting only certain rooms.

Interesting Facts

The museum has an interesting history and many incidents are worthy of a separate mention.

  1. The name of the palace Villa Hermosa is a play on words addressed to the Castilian family of Villahermosa. They have been the patrons of talented masters for centuries, one of whom was Raphael Santi. Representatives of the family took an active part in the transformation of Madrid. Thus, thanks to their participation, the famous Royal Botanical Gardens were founded.
  2. The central entrance of the museum is located on Boulevard Prado, because traditionally the door on the St. Jerome Avenue side could only belong to the Medinaceli family, which has long since ceased to exist. Out of respect for history, a non-trivial solution was found.
  3. Numerous meetings and concerts were held in the living rooms of Villa Hermosa. A bright page was the performance of the young Franz Liszt.
  4. Baroness Carmen Thyssen does not neglect the family collection. A named art museum and an art gallery were opened in the Principality of Andorra, which are full-fledged centers for art education.

Opening hours and how to get there

The work of the museum is aimed at creating the conditions for a fruitful and informative introduction to works of art. The schedule allows you to visit the gallery at any convenient time from 10:00 to 19:00. Opening hours of temporary exhibitions should be specified separately.

Worth considering! In Madrid, there is a promotion in which on certain days to visit all the museums in the city for free. These are national holidays and International Museum Day.

With the Madrid Card discount card you can go without queuing and attend other exhibitions at a discounted price. An interactive game “Inspector Thyssen” is held for young visitors, during which they are introduced to the exhibits and the different directions in art.

You can get to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum to admire the famous works of art by metro, Banco de España station, line 2.

Museum location on the map

For more information about the museum and to buy tickets, visit the official website at www.museothyssen.org.

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