While the Prado focuses on old masters, the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia focuses on modern art. The greats of Spanish modern art are Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Joan Miró, and they are the focus of this museum. You will also see works by Juan Gris, Jorge Oteiza, Pablo Gargallo, Julio Gonzalez, Eduardo Chillida and Antoni Tàpies. The museum is not nearly as busy as the Prado Museum.
The building itself isn't very attractive, the museum is housed in a former hospital. The new wing (2005) does more justice to what can be seen in the building. The collection is impressive and chronologically built up: in room 1 you will see work from the beginning of the 20th century and in room 45 you will end up with art by contemporary artists, such as Eduardo Chillida's huge sculpture Toki Egin.
In the central hall you can see the showpiece of this museum: Pablo Picasso's Guernica. The painting is 3.49 metres high and 7.76 metres wide and was painted in 1937 after the fascist bombardment of the Basque city of Gernika during the Spanish Civil War. To emphasize the horrors, Picasso painted this work in black, white and grey. Until 1981 this canvas was hung in the MOMA in New York. Picasso had decided that the canvas could not be returned to Spain until democracy had been restored. The painter wanted his creation to be in the Prado, next to his great example Goya. It also hung there for some time, but in 1992 it was transferred to the Reina Sofia.
Opposite the Guernica is a room with work by the surrealist artist Miró. A lot of space is reserved for Salvador Dali, from his first work (the landscape around his birthplace Figueres) to the surrealist paintings that made Dali famous.
There is a free booklet in English explaining the works on display. Temporary exhibitions are regularly held and don't forget to visit the library, which is impressive: 100,000 books, about 3500 recordings and 1000 videos.
Website: Centro de Arte Reina Sofia
Address: Calle Santa Isabel 52
Opening Hours: 10.00-21.00 (closed on Tuesday, Sunday 10.00-14.30)
Consult the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia website for up-to-date price information and opening hours.