International Museum Day 2021

The Future Is Behind

Sunday, 16, Monday, 17, and Tuesday, 18 May 2021
View of the Lavapiés neighbourhood from the Nouvel Building terrace, Museo Reina Sofía
View of the Lavapiés neighbourhood from the Nouvel Building terrace, Museo Reina Sofía
Free, until full capacity is reached. Some of the activities require prior registration or prior ticket collection at the Museo Reina Sofía’s Ticket Offices or on the Museo Reina Sofía website

On 18 May, only the Retiro Park venues, the Palacio de Cristal and Palacio de Velázquez, will be open.
Organised by
Museo Reina Sofía
With the sponsorship of

In conjunction with International Museum Day, access will be free of charge on Sunday, 16 and Monday, 17 May. Book your free general admission here.

Once again, the Museo Reina Sofía participates in the annual International Museum Day —celebrated internationally since 1977 — under the 2021 slogan proposed by ICOM (the International Council of Museums) of “The Future of Museums: Recover and Reimagine”, and thus prompts a reconsideration of the idea of a living, open institution. 

The notion of historical time as a dizzying, sped-up line of progress towards the future, and questioned by the current critical conditions and the perception of time at a standstill and repeated, forces us to rethink the meaning of museums, and their role, scale, evolution and future in order to deal with present-day challenges. Learning from other world views, those which conceive of a cyclical, spiralling time in which the past is ahead and the future is behind, contributes to a re-examination of where we are situated and the paths to imagine.    

Therefore, in conjunction with International Museum Day, the Museo offers two days with free entry, on 16 and 17 May, in addition to a special programme of encounters, a film series, interventions, activations and guided tours.

In turn, the Museo once again joins Radio 3 to celebrate the day, offering, on Monday, 17 May, part of the station’s schedule from the rooms of the Collection.




Daniel Pecharromán, photography edited from an image from the holdings of Spain’s National Library, 2021. The MNCARS Library and Documentation Centre
Actividad pasada Monday, 17 May, 2021 – 12pm and 5pm
The Permanence of the Ephemeral. Documentation Around Performance

The Museo Reina Sofía Library and Documentation Centre organise an encounter that gets under way with a guided tour around their facilities, showing the different services on offer to visitors and presenting a selection of different materials from their artistic holdings, materials used to document performance art. The ephemeral, fleeting and short-lived nature of performance actions means that faithfully recording them presents a challenge for artists, institutions and publishers alike. Therefore, this activity sets forth a reflection and debate on the recording and archiving of these formats.  

On the basis of these materials and in order to delve deeper into this problem, the encounter concludes with the collaborative action Añadir contacto (Add Contact), whereby the protagonists are the same attendees in the encounter. The action draws inspiration from a collaborative performance from Andrés Senra that took place on Facebook and subsequently materialised into an artist’s book.

Length: 75 minutes each session

Nouvel Building, Library and Documentation Centre

9 people per session

Sold out



Actividad pasada From 16 May 2021
Three Centuries of Care. The Architecture of Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

Three centuries on from the birth of Francisco Sabatini, the architect behind the building that housed the former Hospital General de Madrid — Madrid’s General Hospital — and today the site of Museo Reina Sofía, this project of grand modernity which primarily sought to care and heal is substantiated. In their desire to evoke the original architecture and imagine possible responses to present-day challenges, the actions here are set out in two of the Museo’s spaces, shining a light on two temporal and typological conceptions of the architecture that co-exist inside:

Sabatini Building, Floor 1 and Nouvel Building, Roof


Free on 16 and 17 May, with prior ticket collection at the Museo Reina Sofía’s Ticket Offices or on the Museo Reina Sofía website.

Photomontage for the installation Illustrated Utopia on Floor 1, Sabatini Building, Museo Reina Sofía, 2021
Actividad pasada Sabatini Building, Floor 1
Illustrated Utopia. Plans for the Hospital General de Madrid project

This small show occasions a reflection on the infancy of the building from the perspective of the architecture, illustrated through plans of the eighteenth-century hospital displayed on the windows of the cloister on Floor 1, and thereby restoring a project of great architectural ambition and modernity, a project which, upon completion, would have constituted one of the largest hospitals in Europe. The plans bear witness to the colossal scale of the original project, of which only a third was ever built. Three centuries on, the updated value of these documents functions as an archaeology of the present, inside a context in which the role of the Museo is once again aligned towards care.

Photomontage for the installation Museums that have never been on Roof, Nouvel Building, Museo Reina Sofía, 2021
Actividad pasada Nouvel Building, Roof
Museums that have never been. The architectural transformation of the old hospital into a cultural space

This intervention brings back the space of original circulation in the interior of the Nouvel Building roof for the public. Inside this space, visitors can discover the architectural transformation of the old hospital into a museum by way of a sound installation with recordings that reproduce the voice and testimonies of professionals who have been decisive in fashioning the building’s identity and were key to its conversion into a museum in the 1980s, either in its creative genesis (via projects that never materialised) or through contributions to its execution. In the 1980s, considerations revolved around how to put the former hospital to use; today, the same reflection leads us to imagine the nature of the Museo’s next architectural intervention.


Ángeles Santos, Un mundo (A World) (detail), 1929

Free, with prior ticket collection at the Museo Reina Sofía’s Ticket Offices or on the Museo Reina Sofía website.

Registration method: this activity does not require prior registration. These are sporadic actions that happen in the rooms of the Museo and have no fixed sequence.


Juan Gris, Portrait de Madame Josette Gris [Portrait of Madame Josette Gris], 1916
Actividad pasada Monday, 17 May 2021 – 12pm and 5:45pm
Restoration workshop guided tour

The Restoration Department organises a visit around its workshop to offer insight into the restoration process on Juan Gris’s work Portrait of Madame Josette Gris (1887–1927) from the Collection.

One of the Department’s restorers will offer an in-depth explanation of the different analysis methods used in the intervention, as well as the processes that have been carried out in order to conserve the work properly. For instance, they will describe the gigapixel studies with visible light, raking light and ultraviolet light, and infrared digital photography — technology which enables digital high-resolution images to be captured, outlining details that cannot be picked up by the naked eye — methods that have contributed invaluable information to gain extensive knowledge of the work. It has also enabled the undertaking of adding reversible elements to the frame, granting prior and subsequent protection of the paint, with a temperature control system and relative humidity, which will be vital when moving the painting in the future.

Length: 30 minutes per session

Department of Conservation and Restoration, sponsored by the MAPFRE Foundation

The restoration work has been funded with the help of a grant from the Bank of America Art Conservation Project

Sabatini Building, Restoration Department

6 people per session


Free, until full capacity is reached, with prior registration at the Sabatini Building information point.


Radio 3
Actividad pasada Monday, 17 May 2021 – 6pm to 8pm
Special programme with Radio 3

The Museo Reina Sofía once again joins Radio 3 to celebrate International Museum Day. On this occasion, Room 207 will play host to a series of live performances which will be streamed live and direct on the Radio 3 website. The programme includes participation from Ángel Stanich, La Bien Querida, Mikel Erentxun, Rozalén and Sidonie.

Length: 20 minutes per session

Sabatini Building, Room 207 and online platform

10 people per session


Free, with individual registration at the Nouvel Patio information point from 4pm on the same day.