Madrid top museums post record attendance in 2011

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Madrid's top three museums -- the Prado, the Reina Sofia and the Thyssen-Bornemisza -- received a record number of visitors last year as blockbuster exhibits drew crowds despite a weak economy.

The private Thyssen-Bornemisza, which displays works by artists ranging from El Greco to Picasso, posted the biggest rise in visitor numbers of the three museums that make up the Spanish capital's so-called "Golden Triangle of Art".

It drew 1,070,390 visitors, a 30.4 percent jump over the previous year and the biggest number since the museum opened its doors in 1992.

The rise is due to the success of the seven temporary exhibits it held last year, longer opening hours and an increase in the number of visitors to Madrid, the museum's director general Miguel Angel Recio said.

"All of this helped improve visitor numbers," he told AFP.

A temporary exhibit of works by Spanish painter Antonio Lopez, who is known for his realistic style, drew 320,000 visitors, the most of any temporary exhibit ever hosted by the museum.

The visitors to the museum last year were split almost evenly between Spaniards and foreigners.

Spain's top modern art museum, the Reina Sofia which houses Dali's masterpiece Guernica, drew 2,705,529 visitors in 2011, a 17 percent increase over the previous year, it said in a statement.

The Prado Museum, which houses works from before the 20th century, received the most visitors of the three but its rise over the previous year was the smallest.

It drew 2,911,767 visitors, a 6.6 percent increase over 2010 with the majority of visitors, 59 percent, from outside of Spain.

Italy, the United States and France accounted for the greatest number of foreign visitors to the museum, it said in a statement.

The number of visitors was buoyed by the 919,584 people who flocked to temporary exhibits held by the museum, including the nearly 220,000 people who saw an exhibit of works on loan from Russia's Hermitage Museum.

The three museums are all within an easy walk of one another on the Paseo del Prado in the centre of Madrid.

© 2012 AFP

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