In just 10 days will be fulfilled two years of my appointment as director of the Prado Museum, 24 months in which I had the enormous privilege to work, meet and make friends with José Pedro Pérez-Llorca. It is, it is true, a relatively short period of time, but lasting effects, as lasting will be the gratitude of the Prado towards who has been president of its Royal Board since October 2012.
There have been many and varied performances that José Pedro promoted at this time, several decisive for the Museo del Prado to remain what it is, and none as important as his passionate defense of the integrity of the collections. If the Prado visitor can enjoy the Van der Weyden, El Bosco or Tintoretto masterpieces on his visit, it is good that he knows that he owes it to a great extent to his tenacity. The firmness that he showed then was not, however, incompatible with an innate willingness to dialogue. The Spanish benefited from it during the Transition, the Prado Museum in the last seven years, whether in the bosom of the Board, in the performance of daily life or in the daily relationship with the workers. Also whoever writes, who has received vital and professional lessons for two years a week and constant support for their management.
José Pedro Pérez-Llorca naturally assumed from the first moment the honor and responsibility that led to presiding over the main Spanish cultural institution, a superlative museum but that is also much more than a museum, especially for us, the Spaniards. The destiny that his death coincides with the bicentenary of the institution, in whose preparation he so actively participated, and preceded only in a few days to the closing of his inaugural exhibition, has wanted: Prado Museum 1819-2019, a place of memory, that with its emphasis on the importance of legislation in the preservation and enhancement of our historical-artistic heritage, it is erected in a sort of posthumous tribute to the many virtues and concerns of those who knew how to unite in their person an exceptional legal talent with a sincere Passion for art.
Being at the head of a bicentennial institution is reason for great pride but also an invitation to humility, remembering that our work is only important to the extent that we are able to transmit a legacy in better conditions of how we receive it. José Pedro can be proud of having brilliantly satisfied that task, since he leaves a Prado Museum even better than he found, beautified with new masterpieces, like that portentous one. Virgin of Granada, by Fra Angelico, in whose acquisition both worked, and with a solid project for the culmination of its physical expansion, by incorporating the Hall of Realms. For these and many other things, thank you very much, on behalf of the Prado Museum and of all the Spaniards.