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Reina Sofía on course to break records

Dalí retrospective helps draw 730,339 visitors through Madrid museum's doors

Scores of visitors wait in line to see the Dalí exhibition at the Reina Sofía.
Scores of visitors wait in line to see the Dalí exhibition at the Reina Sofía.CARLOS ROSILLO

Nearly a quarter of century after his death, Salvador Dalí is still capable of a few master strokes. For proof, look no further than the retrospective of his work that, in these times of cultural slump, attracted 730,339 visitors to Madrid's Reina Sofía Museum in four-and-a-half months earlier this year.

As a result of that, and of all the people who went to see Guernica and the rest of the gallery's collection in 2013, the center has already broken its annual visitors record.

Up until the end of October, the Reina Sofía had sold 2.8 million tickets, surpassing its previous top total of 2.7 million in 2011. The museum expects to reach 3.2 million by the end of the year, which would be a record for a Spanish museum.

Reina Sofía director Manuel Borja-Villel says 2013 has been a "key" year for the museum, though not because of the record visitor numbers.

"That is good, but the important things are others, such as the education program, the work in the archives and the research," he says. "This year is fundamental because it involves the previous work of 2012, 2011..."

The year has been even more important taking into account the cut in public funding the museum experienced in 2013, which will hit it again next year. This year's budget was 33.78 million euros: 25.4 million from the public coffers and the rest from its own income. Next year public funding will drop to 22.9 million euros.

That is one of the reasons why the center has opted to take the self-financing route via its new statute, which came into force in April and Borja-Villel considers one of the pillars of 2013.

So what's to do in 2014? There are "many things to improve," Borja-Villel says. "We want to increase acquisitions, our work with other institutions, and guarantee better accessibility for visitors." This time, though, he will have to do it without the help of Dalí.

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