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BoBo is a French expression, short for Bourgeois Bohème, and it pretty much describes who we are.

Bobo Feed will be sharing things that inspire us or please us-
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Monday, October 11, 2010

Tackling the Prado

 El Museo del Prado, aka "the Prado", is surely one of the world's great art institutions. It is massive in scale and a daunting challenge to the sightseeing tourist. How can you possibly do justice to its overwhelming collection? How can you spend an enjoyable half day there without ending up curled into the fetal position in a dimly lit corner, exhausted and babbling incoherently to yourself?
 Fortunately the museum groups works by period and region of origin, so with a very small amount of advance homework (a decent tourist guide book will suffice) and the handy plan brochures that the museum provides, you can steer yourself without much difficulty to the works you really wish to see. Problem is, it's so darned easy to be distracted from your mission because everything is both fascinating and stunningly beautiful.
image above courtesy madrid.com
image above courtesy The Prado

Another wonderful feature of the Prado is that the spaces are huge; very high volumes with ample floor area so that (at least on the day we visited) you're not overwhelmed by a crush of people. There is room to step back from a huge canvas and quietly contemplate it for a few minutes.
image above courtesy sacred-destinations.com
image above courtesy The Prado

In addition to the art, we were further drawn to the Prado to see the recent expansion undertaken by Spanish architectural master Jose Rafael Moneo.

The very restricted site made enlargement of the building a highly complicated exercise. The original edifice is one of the most revered landmarks in Madrid and is prominently sited on the exquisite Paseo del Prado.
To the rear was a residential neighbourhood and the beautiful old San Jerónimo monastery and cloisters. The solution was to incorporate the cloisters into the expansion and link the new wing to the old with a new entry and service pavilion tucked into the hillside behind the original building.
image above courtesy Architectural Record
above image courtesy the Prado

above, the gift shop with Cafe in background

View of the expansion "cube", a highly sophisticated study in massing & composition. 
Image courtesy Time.com

We spent about three hours seeing the major masterpieces of the collection, but still missed much. Finally we couldn't walk another pace without sustenance and retired to the cafe in the new underground service wing. Refortified, we took a turn through the gift shop (the museum's one glaring weak spot, we thought) then headed out into the dazzling afternoon sunlight to contemplate the new cube. The siting and composition of forms is exquisite. Although we've heard the juxtaposition of the church and the expansion building described as awkward, we beg to differ. We found the massing, textures and materials to be very pleasing together, and to have a dynamic edginess that was carefully measured so as not to be crass. And in the blinding Castillian sunlight, the striking clarity of the forms was not only appropriate, it was necessary.

In the end, despite our best efforts, our tackling of the Prado remains incomplete. Just one more reason why we must return to Madrid....

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