Reina Sofía museum says it cannot continue with current budget

Modern art gallery appoints new foundation chief to find alternative revenue streams

The Richard Hamilton exhibition at the Reina Sofía in Madrid.
The Richard Hamilton exhibition at the Reina Sofía in Madrid.Álvaro García

Madrid’s Reina Sofía modern art museum is kicking off the upcoming season with a host of new artistic offerings and structural changes. As well as 14 planned exhibitions, both thematic (Really Useful Knowledge, from October 28) and artist-focused (including shows devoted to Patricia Gadea, Mathias Goeritz and Luciano Fabro), the big change will be the appointment of Ana Tomé as the head of the Reina Sofía Foundation, whose first objective will be to bring in more funds for the museum.

Income may be down by as much as €1 million this year and with the huge success of last year’s Dalí retrospective now firmly in the past, tickets sales are back to 2012 levels. The situation is so serious that the museum’s deputy managing director, Michaux Miranda, has said it has touched bottom and cannot cut any more: “You can reduce energy consumption, but the next step is to turn out the lights,” he summed up.

You can reduce energy consumption, but the next step is to turn out the lights”

The first meeting of all the foundation members is scheduled for Saturday. As well as formally making public Tomé’s appointment, it will begin its search for formulas that will allow the museum to dig itself out of the economic hole in which it finds itself. The budget for this year so far has totaled little more than €33 million.

Museum director Manuel Borja-Villel assures, however, that its economic plight has not affected the exhibitions. “If we had the same budget we had five years ago, we would still have presented the same program we presented today. These are the only topics that interest us at the museum,” he said.

Borja-Villel added that he was not contemplating the possibility of raising ticket prices, currently set at €6, pointing out that the museum had in fact increased the number of hours when it is open for free.

One of the ways through which the gallery is looking to manage income more effectively is by loaning out pieces from its collection. This year works by Miró, Dalí and Val del Omar are all set to be lent out, though the most significant loans will go to the Picasso and Spanish modernism exhibition at Florence’s Palazzo Strozzi. Not one given to talking about numbers, Borja-Villel confessed that the Italian museum was paying the Reina Sofía €300,000 for the works.

He also admitted that if the long-promised Patronage Law to encourage private arts spending was a reality, things would be very different. Another source of income could be made available once remodeling work on the Nouvelle zone is complete, which will provide the gallery with more exhibition space and halls that could be rented out for external events as many other major museums already do.

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