Madrid, Part 3, Art, Art, and the Americas

Keeping with our studies of Spanish exploration of the New World, we went to the Museum of the Americas (Museo de America). This collection, begun in the 1700s with items brought back from the Spanish colonies, is extensive and covers both North and South America. Now housed in its own building, the museum was recently renovated. The highlights include a series of panels showing Cortes defeating Montezuma and the Madrid Codex, one of only 4 known Mayan books in the entire world. We had the complex nearly to ourselves, as it is a bit off the main tourist route.

The Prado Museum was our next stop in Madrid. As it is now late September, we found the crowds have lessened, and there was no wait for tickets when we arrived mid-morning to the Prado. There was no formal children’s activity, so we made our own art scavenger hunt with a list of museum highlights from the Gallery guide and a map. We spent an hour going through the permanent collection and took a lunch break in the cafe before checking out the temporary exhibit.

The temporary exhibit focused on El Greco, and his influence on painters of the modern era. Boy especially liked a series from Picasso, where the original El Greco paintings were hung next to the Picasso interpretations of the same picture. Very crazy, mixed up versions!

We followed this up on another day with visit to Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, home to modern and contemporary artists. The collection here included more Picasso, along with Dali, and other surrealists.

Before leaving Spain, we decided to take in a bullfight. We debated this long and hard, but ultimately decided that it was an historical and cultural spectacle that had great influence on Spanish culture. We also did not feel fair judging the event without actual knowledge of it. We booked seats in the shade (it’s is more expensive than seats in the sun), and settled in for the afternoon. It was indeed bloody. After one fight Boy (and I) had enough. I much prefer rodeo as a means of showing riding and animal management skills.

Our schoolbooks for the week:

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The Museo de America

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A Guide to the Bullfight

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