If the Renaissance was dignity and imposture, the 21st century is plastic and merchandising. That confident humanist, master of his own style, arrogant and straight self-portrayed in 1498 to clarify that he was not an artisan like his father, has become a bright and stiff figure, with acrylonitrile butadiene styrene heart … It is the malleable material with which the Playmobil Durer is made, that sells the store of the Prado Museum (for 4.99 euros). The material of the stars. The same one that the Rijksmuseum sent to the protagonists of The night round (1642), by Rembrandt (for 5.95 euros). From Playmobil Durero el Prado has sold 38,500 copies since it was launched in September 2011.
Now that the merchandising it has been perfected enough to turn the museum into an alternative visit to the store and as a way to supply the battered public aid with its benefits, the cultural product can not be stopped. These days the Prado will contract the supply of shirts and sweatshirts to print their designs worth almost 500,000 euros. Another 200,000 euros will go to manufacture custom bags for official products and 160,000 euros to print the guide Masterpieces of the Prado Museum.
In the last three years, as they inform from the Pinacoteca to EL PAÍS, the Prado diffusion society -In charge of creating the product and the image for sale- has invoiced 6.9 million euros, in 2015; 9.3 million euros, in 2016; and 7.3 million euros, in 2017. The clean profits that the museum has taken of these amounts have been, respectively, 2.5 million euros, 3.4 and 2.7. The museum managed to raise 19.6 million euros at the box office (20.5 with the Bosco year) and in attracting sponsorships were 6.1 million.
The best Prado customer
24% of what is entered in the store are products derived from temporary exhibitions or extraordinary events. In 2012, with the "discovery" of Mona Lisa, the postcard of the new image of the Prado fulminated all the sales records in a few days: they entered 100,000 euros in a week just with the sale of the postcards. He did not resist the Christ crucified Velázquez, who remained in first position since the celebration of the papal visit to Madrid on the occasion of the World Youth Day (WYD), in 2011.
At this time, the general classification of the best-selling postcards is led by Las Meninasfollowed by the Naked Maja of Goya and the Garden of delights. Then, the Dressed. Velazquez box have sold 55,205 postcards in three years, is 4.51% of total turnover in store. Of the Naked Maja have placed 26,712 postcards and the Maja dressed, 21,000 postcards. They have sold 24,947 postcards of the most famous painting of Bosch.
The volume of sale of these souvenirs (postcards, diaries, pocket mirrors, badges, bookmarks, magnetic cards, paperweights, sheets) is what leaves the most profit margins in the box. The stores are the sauce of the museum. One can miss a masterpiece in the room, but never let it escape at the post desk.
After the first four, arrives Half-sunken dog (from Goya), the Tres de Mayo (from Goya), Saturn devouring his son (Goya), the Annunciation (Fra Angelico), Christ crucified (Velázquez) and The three thanks (Rubens), in the top ten places. The genius of Fuendetodos is the best-seller on postcards. Mona Lisa occupies the fifteenth place, just ahead of the Boys on the beach, by Joaquín Sorolla.
"Our best client is Madonna", surprises Cristina Alovisetti, general director of Prado Diffusion. In 2015 the museum signed a contract with the pop queen to use the apostolate of Rubens on his last tour, dedicated to his thirteenth album, Rebel Heart Tour, in which introspection played a leading role, according to the singer herself. "We closed with her a fee for management of indefinite use for all media," he adds, but prefers not to provide the figure with which the contract was closed because it is "private."
The pitch helps
Indeed, with the temporary exhibition dedicated to El Bosco, the painter with more audience of the museum, all the records were broken. They sold 31,000 copies of the temporary exhibition catalog. The 583,206 people who went through the storm (5,100 daily) left a good pinch for the coffers, at a time when the center contributes with its own funds 73% of the annual budget (the State helps with 13.7 million euros ). In 2003, the State financed 85.7% of the budget.
The store inside the museum bills 60,000 euros per week. Of the sales income, 76% is related to products derived from the permanent collection. For example, the star product is the Prado Guide, of which almost 600,000 have already been published. "The printed product is what leaves the most margin," says Cristina Alovisetti. "The store exists so that visitors can take a piece of the Prado and with that gesture contribute to the museum," he says. In the income is the survival and the justification. What museums offer in their stores will also depend on whether citizens repeat visits.
They sell 14,000 shirts a year: the most demanded is the hand on the chest of the gentleman painted by El Greco. They work from seriousness and "sophistication". "We do not want to get carried away by nonsense in order to increase the benefit. Here we manage the image of the museum. Above all, you do not have to create news from objects. We do not do an academic range either, but we have a lot of respect for our images and the content of the museum, "adds Alovisetti, who refuses to launch a line of condoms with prints from the museum, as did the Thyssen with Adam and Eve.