The Prado Museum recover Historical Memory. When the scaffolding of Velázquez's door was erected, the lost plaque appeared: "To all those who made possible the protection of the Prado National Museum during the Civil War". And a date: "MMIII". It is the small tribute that the government of José María Aznar, with Pilar del Castillo as Minister of Culture, had placed to remember the historical milestone that the museum has kept invisible since the tombstone was removed in 2007, with the extension designed by the architect Rafael Moneo.
Nobody knew where this tribute was to all the employees of the museum, officials, drivers, artists, architects who took part in the protection of the artistic treasure and its evacuation, between 1936 and 1939. The director of the museum, Miguel Falomir, has recovered that inscription and it has been ordered to place Velázquez's door, the most important access to the center, which always remains closed.
Andrés Úbeda, deputy director of the Prado, explains by telephone that the placement of the plaque was approved last April. "The bicentennial is the celebration of celebrations. It is not nostalgic, but it takes the past to know where we come from and where we are going. The Prado has sometimes been unfair to certain groups, such as donors and those who helped save the museum during the Civil War. We wanted the plate to be in a very noble and visible place, to give it the importance we give to the plate, "he says. Next November there will be a congress on this part of the history of the Prado.
Miguel Zugaza, previous director of the Prado, decided to give a memory while inaugurating the exposition Protected art. Zugaza presented the exhibition as a "truthful" reconstruction of the "painful episode", a "tribute to the saviors of heritage, protagonists of an exemplary enterprise from which we still have to learn". The events are not reflected in any part of the collection, not even in the worst picture stopped in the transfer, The burden of the Mamluks, from Goya, sliced and rescued on the fly.
Eleven years after his disappearance, the Prado will present tomorrow the access reform Velázquez and this plaque, which for those claiming his rescue is a "question of historical justice." Alicia Torija, archaeologist, member of Madrid Citizenship and Heritage and professor at Tufts University in Spain, says: "Today we have the Prado thanks to the transfer. At that time I was justified, although today we would not do it. Recovering memory is very important, although it is decontextualized ".
The archaeologist refers to the bombing of Franco's army on the night of November 16, 1936. The Government of the Republic had indicated that the Prado was the best place to protect the funds also from other museums, and while that was happening and repeated that it was the ideal refuge, his most famous paintings abandoned him for months, in trucks, fleeing from the lack of security. And the threat of a bombing, which ended up happening.
The month of the coup d'état executed by Franco, the museum closed the doors in order of the subdirector Sánchez Cantón. Without prior notice. And ordered to move and stack the works in the lower rooms, more secure against an attack. There they have been the images of the main empty gallery, with sandbags and sand deposits to extinguish the incendiary bombs, that when trying to extinguish them with water they were revived. A week before the bombing, The Prado empties: thousands of paintings, drop by drop, towards Valencia, in trucks that drive less than 15 km / h, with the lights off and under the risk of destruction.
Zugaza's idea was to recover the plaque in the Muses room, the central space of the expansion designed by Moneo, along with the names of the donors and the eight Roman statues that pay tribute to the woman ... as a muse, not as an artist. Then, the excuse that was put to justify his absence was that the list of donors was a "thorough investigation of the file so as not to leave anyone out". Finally, the plaque has appeared not with the donors, but with the list of the museum's great artists, who appear inscribed on the frieze. By the way, among all of them there is only one woman: Luisa Roldán (1652-1706).