Immersive exhibitions are a tourist proposal halfway between culture and entertainment. And in recent years they have been proliferating a lot. In Madrid there have been many recently: Van Gogh, Goya, Frida Kahlo… They have all been of a temporary nature, but there has also been a permanent one on one of the city’s great icons, and here is my opinion: the Velázquez Tech Museum, which revolves around the painting Las Meninas by the great Sevillian painter, on display at the Prado Museum.
What’s in this museum
Before I give you my opinion about the Velazquez Tech Museum in Madrid, I would like to tell you that these are the main spaces or attractions you will find:
- La Habitación or the ‘room of the room’ of the painting: Las Meninas is a scene that takes place in the Prince’s Room of the Alcázar of Madrid and this room recreates its space. This is key to trying to understand what was going on in that scene and, above all, what painting Velázquez was painting when he portrayed himself in Las Meninas (a mystery which, on the other hand, can never be successfully solved).
- Hall of ‘The Pillars of Society’: this is an elongated space where some Meninas are exhibited and which invites us to reflect on current culture and society.
- Hologram room: a 10-minute projection in which a hologram of Velázquez tells us some details of the painting, offering some interpretations of it.
- Immersive room: this is probably one of the visitors’ favourites, as it works as a cube of images and audiovisual effects, very tiktokable.
- The ‘Art in the streets’ room and other Meninas: more figures that formed part of the urban exhibition Meninas Madrid Gallery are on display. They stand out for their great originality, making them the most artistic pieces in the museum. And they reflect on creativity in our times.
- Photo room: this is the final space, where visitors are invited to take a free photo, creating the illusion that they are sharing the space with the protagonists. In my case, it is the photo that accompanies this article.
Now: my opinion of the Velázquez Tech Museum in Madrid
I admit that I don’t usually visit this type of immersive exhibition: I like the real works, the original ones in museums, much better. I offer my opinion on technology in the art world in front of The Washing of the Feet by Tintoretto, when I do the visit in the Prado Museum: the new virtual applications can NEVER replace the original work.
But at that moment, I also add another important appreciation: technology can be a good complement to understand and appreciate such a work. And that is truly my opinion about the Velázquez Tech Museum in Madrid: it is a good complement to reflect on the painting… after having seen it, so it can be a good complement to the work of art.
The most positive aspects of the Velázquez Tech Museum
- It helps to reflect on Velázquez’s intention in creating the work: was it a portrait session of the kings Philip IV and Mariana of Austria? Was there a set of mirrors in the room?
- A good family experience: it is well known that young people and children nowadays need a lot of visual stimuli to keep them from getting bored. And this museum has plenty of just that.
- It recovers some of the best Meninas that were exhibited in Madrid in previous years: remember that the aforementioned Meninas Madrid Gallery was an initiative in which these figures were exhibited in the streets and then auctioned off to raise funds for charity. A magnificent idea that was temporary in nature, but which here takes on the character of a permanent exhibition, so that we will never forget this great urban exhibition.
- The photo in which the visitors slip in among the characters is a very interesting idea and, for some, the realisation of an impossible dream: to be there with them and feel as if they were inside the painting. In my case (and in Pablo Picasso’s), the impossible dream is to see what the hell Velázquez was painting at that moment, which would explain everything… and we will never know it.
- It is very centrally located, next to the Plaza Mayor. The museum is about a 10-15 minute walk from the Prado Museum. Being in the surrounding area would have been perfect, but maybe that would have been a bit of a stretch…
The least positive thing about the Velázquez Tech Museum
- The priority language is Spanish: the information signs are translated into English, but if I’m not mistaken, the hologram only speaks Spanish, and I don’t know if there is a way to translate all this into other languages. For example, into Italian or French, which are two languages widely spoken by tourists visiting the city.
- The museum space is relatively small. However, I must also say that there is capacity control by means of time slots, so it is not an overwhelming experience in terms of crowds of visitors.
How to visit the museum: prices, opening hours…
If you are planning to visit the Velázquez Tech Museum in Madrid, take note of these details:
- Address: Calle de Atocha 12
- Opening hours: from 11.00 to 21.00, every day of the week
- Price: €12 general admission, €9 reduced admission, €36 family ticket
- Where to buy: through the museum’s official channels, or through other retailers, such as Civitatis (at the same price).
In short: my opinion of the Velázquez Tech Museum in Madrid is positive. It seems to me to be an original and necessary idea for the city, as the figures of the Meninas have become true icons of the city, since we see them in Christmas decorations, on souvenir T-shirts, in various exhibitions… Therefore, it fills a gap that existed until now: that of immersive exhibitions, which have many followers nowadays.