June 14, 2021

El Prado seeks a solution to El Bosco traffic | Culture

On video, the remodeling of the El Bosco room in the Prado Museum.

To discover that demon that holds the mirror in which the lady looks while she dresses, you have to get very close to the scene of pride, in the Table of Capital Sins that El Bosco painted between 1505 and 1510. We see her on her back, she has forgotten God and she gloats in her own image, encouraged by that dog-like being that enjoys her victim’s self-absorption. The Dutch painter who did his best to show that the passions had blinded mankind requires time and proximity, Is this possible in a busy room?

The Prado Museum Find a solution to this question: just design new media for the works of the artist that receives the most attention. It is a step back from those created in 2016 for temporary exposure: management has understood that they are too bulky to facilitate a flow without traffic jams before The garden of delights, which is again attached to the wall and protected by catenary. Those bath-shaped devices built for the temporary were assumed by the permanent, but they have not given good results. “The intention was to separate the work from the public and now we see that we have a problem with them: they are such large volumes that hinder the visit,” explains Karina Marotta, coordinator of the institution’s conservation area.

The new ones, says the responsible, are lighter. “But they are tests. We must continue testing and searching, because there is no ideal solution for these rooms with such a mass of people, ”he adds to congestion. The agglomerations do not happen like this in front of Las Meninas because it shows in a much wider space. In fact, in the audio guides, the explanations of El Bosco have a duration of four and a half minutes, and Velázquez’s painting, half.

The most striking change will be the installation of screens on which details of the paintings will be projected

The most striking change will be the installation of screens on which details of the paintings are going to be projected. “They may help as a resource to enjoy a complicated room and complicated works, to which people accumulate for a long time. Bosco is attractive even to teenagers, ”says Marotta. The alternative of the screens intends to decongest the traffic before the paintings, in no case replace the contemplation of the work. They call it “support resource.”

The design change coincides with an increase in visits this January of 16.2% compared to the previous year, with the bicentennial expenses. The figure of 249,650 people had not been registered so far in the first month of the year, which leaves accessibility one step away from massification. The Prado is aware that getting lost in the details of an unbeatable painting like that of El Bosco, full of tiny scenes, is very difficult surrounded by other people who want the same. It is a constant river of curiosity.

The sustainable visit

“We return to more social models of aesthetic reception, typical of the eighteenth century. Individual contemplation loses weight and gains interaction with others: either to share the experience (through social networks, and perhaps no longer chatting in the room), or to be informed through expert writings (today maybe apps, instead of catalogs and room sheets). There doesn’t have to be anything wrong with these changes in the visitor’s experience, ”explains Jaime Cuenca and Fernando Bayón, leisure researchers at the University of Deusto.

We return to more social models of aesthetic reception: individual contemplation loses weight and interaction with others gains

Jaime Cuenca and Fernando Bayón

For Antoni Laporte, from ARTImedia, massification is a phenomenon that only occurs in large museums, the rest go unnoticed. It is important to control the volume of visits, he says, because it is a first indicator of the social response, although not the only one. “The museum must make efforts to increase its audiences and to improve year by year the value they attach to the experience of their visit,” says the expert in management and cultural policies. To avoid situations of saturation of rooms, it proposes adjoining spaces, with audiovisual images of detailed interpretations. Coincides with Sara Bono Perucho, expert in cultural heritage management: “With audiovisual content, visitors can enjoy the work of El Bosco in other ways, in a different way and it is the perfect distraction so that users do not stay so long in front of the Exposed work and experiment with art in a more interactive way ”.

The specialists consulted believe that it should be more strict with the carrying capacity in the rooms of the masterpieces. In fact, the Prado has not established a capacity in El Bosco. Cuenca and Bayón propose to create new readings of the collections to create their own story: “Maybe this way, these” masterpieces “would cease to be the only center of their collections and we would leave more than one quagmire.” That is why they demand a more self-critical view of the great museums about the construction of their own collections, to end the “fetishization” that makes productive dialogue with works of art impossible.


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