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Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (In Pictures)

So, I'm finally (finally!) wrapping up my series of photographs from our family trip to Spain this past spring. If you're not a subscriber to this blog (and why wouldn't you be? SUBSCRIBE HERE), here's what you missed: We flew from Miami, landing in Madrid, where we spent our first two days and visited the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. We then rented a car and drove about 70 miles NW to the spectacular Walls of Ávila (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). We continued driving another 95 miles SW to our first stop in Spain's Extremadura region (our main area of exploration on this trip), the city of Plasencia.

From Plasencia, we drove 13 miles south through Monfragüe National Park, the largest and best preserved Mediterranean forest worldwide and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and then drove another 28 miles south to the medieval city of Trujillo. From Trujillo, we drove about 50 miles east to the Royal Monastery of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (another UNESCO World Heritage Site) in Guadalupe, and then another 78 miles SE to visit the Roman Theatre in Mérida (yet another UNESCO World Heritage site) then driving about 45 miles north to the the capital city of the province of Extremadura, Cáceres (and yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site). On our final day in Extremadura, we took a short 20 minute drive further west to visit the Natural Monument of Los Barruecos before embarking on a three hour drive NE back to Madrid.

Which brings us to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Queen Sofia Arts Center), Spain's national museum of 20th-century art which opened its doors in September of 1990 and is named for Queen Sofía, wife of King Juan Carlos I, who reigned from 1975 to 2014. The museum is mainly dedicated to Spanish art. Highlights of the museum include excellent collections of Spain's two greatest 20th-century masters, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí. Certainly, the most famous masterpiece in the museum is Picasso's painting "Guernica".

The original building was home to the San Carlos Hospital, opened by King Felipe II in the sixteenth century. The present building is the work of architects José de Hermosilla and Francisco Sabatini, who was responsible for a large part of its construction. Since then, the building has undergone many transformations with its final renovations occurring in the late 1980s. In 1992, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia inaugurated the permanent collection, and thus named it the Reina Sofia after the Queen herself.

The museum, which we visited on our last day in Madrid before flying back home, has a collection of over 21,000 artworks from the 20th century as well as three permanent collections, one of them being "Guernica", a stunning mural-sized oil painting on canvas by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, completed in June 1937. Regarded by many art critics as one of the most moving and powerful anti-war paintings in history, "Guernica" was created in response to the bombing of Guernica, a Basque Country village in northern Spain, by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italian warplanes at the request of the Spanish Nationalists. As I stood face to face with this powerful work of art, I found it very difficult to walk away from it. It alone is worth the price of admission to the museum (8€, about $9.50). Nuff said.

Now, you know I never visit a museum without a camera in hand, so here are a few images I snapped during our visit to this truly remarkable art museum...

We started out in the Guernica exhibit...

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

No photographs were allowed in the Guernica exhibit (and despite being tempted, I fought off the urge - barely) so here's an installation view of Picasso’s Guernica by photographer Joaquín Cortés via artsy.net

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

A group of students gazing upon "Visage du Grand Masturbateur (Face of the Great Masturbator)" by prominent Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dalí (1904-1989)

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

Mrs. Perez appreciating "Natura morta" by Salvador Dalí

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

"La verbena" by Spanish painter Maruja Mallo (1902-1995). Mallo was born Ana María Gómez González in Viveiro, Galicia, and studied arts in Madrid. She was a driving force in the flowering of Spanish culture through the 1920s and 1930s

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

"Le Bal" (The Dance) by André Lhote (1885-1962), French Cubist painter of figure subjects, portraits, landscapes and still life...

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

"Hombre con pipa" by Joan Miró (1893-1983), a Spanish painter, sculptor, and ceramicist born in Barcelona. Earning international acclaim, his work has been interpreted as Surrealism, a sandbox for the subconscious mind, a re-creation of the childlike, and a manifestation of Catalan pride...

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

"María la gitana" by Spanish sculptor Julio Antonio (1889-1919)

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

"La visita del obispo" by Spanish painter, engraver and author José Gutiérrez Solana (1886-1945)

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

My daughter Miranda puzzling over "La famille en état de métamorphose" by French artist André Masson (1896–1987)

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

A tour group gazes upon Picasso's "Mujer en azul"

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

Young woman seems oblivious to "Os retirantes" by Cândido Portinari (1903–1962), one of the most important Brazilian painters as well as a prominent and influential practitioner of the neo-realism style in painting. This haunting painting was one of my faves...

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

Outside the museum is a lovely courtyard to sit and relax for a while, especially on a glorious day like the one we had during our visit...

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

In the courtyard, museum visitors gather around "Pájaro lunar" by Spanish painter/sculptor Joan Miró

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

"Carmen", a monumental standing mobile, by Alexander Calder (1898-1976), an American sculptor known as the originator of the mobile, a type of moving sculpture made with delicately balanced or suspended shapes that move in response to touch or air currents...

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

Back inside, tour groups were a common site all around the museum...

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

"Portrait of Josette Gris" by Spanish painter and sculptor José Victoriano González-Pérez, better known as Juan Gris (1887–1927). Gris was closely connected to the innovative artistic genre Cubism, with his works being among the movement's most distinctive...

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

"Nu" by Brazilian artist Ismael Nery (1900-1934)

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

"Bird Lady" by Dutch painter Constant Anton Nieuwenhuys (1920–2005), better known as Constant

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

"El hombre del cordero" by Pablo Picasso

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

"Pescadores" by Brazilian painter Emiliano Di Cavalcanti (1897–1976)

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

Interior of the Reina Sofía was spacious and modern - a beautiful museum...

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

"Cuerda de presos", which received the gold medal in the National Exhibition of Fine Arts in Spain in 1901, by Spanish painter José María López Mezquita (1883-1954)

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

"El primer consejo" by Spanish artist and writer Antonio Saura, one of the major post-war painters to emerge in Spain in the fifties

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

"Três Orixás" by Brazilian painter, illustrator and engraver, Djanira (1914-1979). She was known for her naïve art paintings, depicting Brazilian common people, religious themes and landscapes...

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

Mrs. Perez and my daughter walking past "Equal-Parallel: Guernica-Bengasi", a laminated steel sculpture by prestigious American artist Richard Serra

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The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía was well worth the trip and made for a great way to spend a few hours whilst in Madrid. Overall, our trip to Spain could only have been better if we had stayed another week. Besides our time in the cosmopolitan city of Madrid, we visited four UNESCO World Heritage Sites as well as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and a Natural Monument. We explored the mythical region of Extremadura and only wish we would have stayed an extra day (days!) in each city. Moreover, we had glorious weather every day of our trip (surely, the weather Gods will send rain every day of our next trip to Europe just to even things out a bit). As far as driving around Spain, it was easy like Sunday morning - very little traffic and plenty of eye-popping scenery along the way.

Madrid was great but I can't recommend a trip to Spain's Extremadura region enough. Visit turismoextremadura.com (and yes. the site is in English) to learn more and plan your trip to this historic region. We will hopefully return to Spain for another trip in the coming year, stay tuned...

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Check out images from some of the other art museums I've visited in my travels abroad, starting with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Museo Nacional de Arte and Museo Soumaya in Mexico City, the National Museum of Art of Romania, the National Gallery of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo, el Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico, and the Norton Museum of Art right here in South Florida. If there's an art museum in town, I'm there.

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