Spain’s new royal museum needed special tool for awkward granite cladding

The Museo de Colecciones Reales (Luis García/CC BY-SA 3.0 ES)
A museum is about to open in Madrid housing 160,000 precious items owned by the Spanish royal family. It will exhibit around 650 of them, including paintings by Goya, Velázquez, and Caravaggio.

When the Royal Collections Gallery opens on 29 June, it will mark the culmination of 25 years of work to gather art and artefacts scattered across the country.

The €173m project is being overseen by Patrimonio Nacional, the heritage body that looks after more than 1,000 buildings, including two dozen palaces, monasteries, country houses and gardens owned by the House of Bourbon.

The first temporary exhibition, “In Motion”, will highlight forms of transportation (Patrimonio Nacional)

The building is on Campo del Moro gardens, next to the Royal Palace. The competition-winning design was by Mansilla + Tuñón back in 2002. The project itself suffered lengthy delays caused by the discovery of archaeological remains and wrangling over the price, which was originally put at €60m.

One issue faced by the construction team, which included consultant JG Asociados, was the use of large blocks of Gris Quintana granite to clad the reinforced concrete structure.

Website Spanish Architects notes that the placement of these large pieces was a complex task for which a custom tool had to be created. According to the original design, the interior was to have been covered in black granite, but this idea was dropped in 2012 to save money.

The objects to be displayed range from old masters to tapestries, ceramics and suits of armour. The first temporary exhibition will show carriages and sleighs dating back to the 16th century.

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