A new jewel for Spain’s royal crown

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The Palacio Real in Madrid appoints a director and plans a museum, making the Royal Collection more accessible to visitors

The Palacio Real in Madrid has modified its visitor route, opening new views to the public

Access to Spain’s Royal Collection will improve after a historic change to the way it is managed. Following the appointment of a new director, the first in its history, last week the Palacio Real in Madrid modified its visitor route, opening new views to the public, including spaces previously only used for official State events.

The new director, José Luis Díez, who took up the post on 10 April, was the chief curator of 19th-century paintings at the Museo del Prado for 26 years. As director of the Royal Collections, Díez will also lead the new Royal Collections Museum, “which aims to show the extraordinary artistic patronage of the Crown,” he says.

One key responsibility will be to get the €160m museum, designed by Mansilla y Tuñón, open by 2016. Construction for the museum is underway on a site next to the Almudena Cathedral and the Royal Palace in the historic centre of Madrid. Once completed, the museum will house paintings, tapestries, carriages and armour owned by the Spanish monarchy from Medieval times to the present, including objects from the Houses of Bourbon and Austria.

At the end of March, the Spanish government approved a modification of its National Heritage law to improve the leadership of the new museum project. The changes brought in by the Royal Decree modified the structure and powers of management of the National Heritage Board. Its most important change was the creation of the new director of Royal Collections, the post held by Diaz. The new director will oversee the historical and artistic assets of the Royal Collections, the Royal Library and Archives, and the development of specialist discourse, museology and museum management.

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