Madrid Art Museums

Madrid’s Golden Triangle of Art: The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

Madrid Spain is full of great attractions for visitors and especially for those interested in art. The city is home to 3 top level art museums in what has come to be called the Golden Triangle of Art: The Prado, The Reina Sofia and El Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza commonly called ‘The Thyssen’.


The museum’s unusual history started with Heinrich, Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza, son of a German industrialist. Heinrich married a Hungarian and was later adopted by his father-in-law who passed on the title of Baron. Heinrich was an entrepreneur and an art collector who was able to acquire an impressive set of works in the period between the two World Wars when the economy forced many collectors to sell of their art.

When Heinrich died his collection of over 500 works of art was split up between his four children. His son Hans caught the art collecting bug and spent much of his life trying to reunite his father’sPortrait of a Lady by Hans Baldung GrienCredit: Hans Baldung Grien collection and add more to it. Hans became interested in contemporary art especially German Expressionism, a style of art considered ‘degenerate’ by the Nazis. Hans also collected Impressionists, Post-Impressionists, modern art and even pop art, buying paintings from American artists before they were considered to be ‘real’ art.

The collection by now had overgrown any private place to display it and the Baron Hans began looking for a permanent home for it and a way to protect his legacy from being split up upon his death. The Baron accepted bids by interested parties including the Getty Foundation and the British, German and Spanish Governments. Hans was married to a former ‘Miss Spain’ Carmen Cervera who may have had some influence on the decision, however, stating best offer of placement and building (a palace in the center of Madrid across the street from the Prado museum) Spain was chosen.

In 1992 the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza opened to the public in the Villahermosa Palace displaying what is often called the most important private collection of art in the world. In 1993 the Spanish government officially purchased the collection paying 350 million dollars for what was estimated to be a 1.5 billion dollars worth of incredible art

Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum(84119)Credit: Luis García

The Art

The Thyssen is praised as being the perfect complement to the Prado and Reina Sofia Museums; the other two parts of the Golden Art triangle in Madrid. The Thyssen Museum’s art fills in the gaps in their collections.

The Thyssen provides a great general overview of the major periods and schools of art from the 13th to the 20th century. The collection is organized chronologically starting with Italian primitive art of the 1200’s and proceeds the Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Impressionism, German Expressionism and on to modern and pop art of the 1960’s. It is literally a walk through art history with incredible demonstrations along the way.

Some of the artists featured in the museum include Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Rubens, Gauguin, Jackson Pollock, Renoir, Degas, and Picasso.

Les Vessenots à Auvers by Vincent van Gogh(84121)Credit: Vincent van Gogh

Visiting the Museum

The Thyssen is located in central Madrid. It is within walking distance of the other two major art museums in Madrid and almost exactly across the street from the Prado.

You can purchase a ticket to visit the Thyssen or if you are interested in seeing all three of the Golden Triangle museums you can buy the Madrid Art Pass to save money.

The Thyssen has already outgrown its original palace and has been expanded to be able to house the art collection of the Baron’s widow Carmen. 

The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid Spain

One of the three museums included in the Golden Triangle of Art in Madrid