Fra Angelico, "La Anunciación (The Annunciation)," Real Jardín Botánico, Paseo del Prado (photo © Museo Nacional del Prado)

After more than a year of strict national and regional coronavirus confinements, Madrid’s Museo Nacional del Prado has brought some of its most famous artworks to the streets of the Spanish capital. The museum has partnered with the city of Madrid to produce A la vuelta de la esquina (Just Around the Corner), a temporary public exhibition of 27 full-scale, digitally printed, framed reproductions of paintings from the Prado’s illustrious collection. Madrileños will now see the works of Fra Angelico, Goya, Rafael, Rembrandt, Velázquez, Zurbarán, and others on the facades and fences of local schools, libraries, parks, markets, gyms, and other locations around the city

The public exhibition will come as a boon to those who haven’t been able to visit the Prado through months of restrictions on local, provincial, and regional movement. From March to June of last year, the museum closed its doors to the public for the first time since the Civil War, when the Prado was bombed by Francoist forces. As Spain repeatedly struggled to contain the spread of the virus, the Prado’s visitor numbers plummeted, dropping by two thirds between 2019 and 2020. 

El Greco, “Una fábula (A Fable),” Escuela infantil El jardín de los genios, Calle de Evaristo San Miguel, 11 (photo © Museo Nacional del Prado)

Due to Spain’s six-month-long state of alarm — which was lifted earlier this month in most of the country’s regions — only local residents of Madrid have been able to access the museum. This initiative, which commemorates the 2021 International Museum Day, opens the Prado’s collection to the public and provokes unexpected encounters with art. 

Titian, “Charles V at the Battle of Mühlberg,” Telefónica, Gran Vía 28 Calle de Gran Vía, 28 (photo © Museo Nacional del Prado)

But this isn’t the first time that the Prado has taken its collection beyond the museum walls. In the early 1930s — amid the spirit of collective patrimony that arose during the Second Spanish Republic — the Prado toured full-sized, painted reproductions of its collection to 170 far-flung villages around the country, bringing some of Spain’s most revered artworks to those with the least access to it. 

Zurbarán, “Santa Isabel de Portugal (St. Isabel of Portugal),” Centro Municipal de Mayores Pérez Galdós, Av. de la Ciudad de Barcelona, 182 (photo © Museo Nacional del Prado)

In 2015, the museum launched its “El Prado en las calles (The Prado in the Streets)” project, which has since staged public installations of Prado artwork reproductions in Central America, the Caribbean, Manila, the southwestern US, and around Spain. And the majority of museum visitors — nearly 64% so far this year — experience the museum with free entry. A la vuelta de la esquina (Just Around the Corner) is the museum’s latest inventive effort to bring its art to the masses. 

Goya, “El quitasol (The Parasol),” Biblioteca Municipal Pío Baroja, Calle de Arganda, 12 (photo © Museo Nacional del Prado)
Rubens, “St. George and the Dragon,” Biblioteca Pública Municipal, Iván de Vargas Calle de San Justo, 5 (photo © Museo Nacional del Prado)
Velázquez, “Las “lanzas” o La rendición de Breda (The Surrender of Breda),” Parque del Retiro, Plaza de la Independencia, 7 (photo © Museo Nacional del Prado)
Sofonisba Anguissola, “Felipe II (Phillip II),” Junta Municipal Distrito Centro, Calle Mayor, 72 (photo © Museo Nacional del Prado)
José de Ribera, “El sueño de Jacob (Jacob’s Dream),” Centro Cultural Casa del Reloj, Paseo de la Chopera nº 6-10 (photo © Museo Nacional del Prado)

A la vuelta de la esquina (Just Around the Corner) is on view around the city of Madrid through June 6.

Lauren Moya Ford is a writer and artist. Her writing has appeared in Apollo, Artsy, Atlas Obscura, Flash Art, Frieze, Glasstire, Mousse Magazine, and other publications.