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Monday, 15 April, 2002, 12:51 GMT 13:51 UK
Modern shake-up for Madrid museum
Skyline of Plaza de Espaņa and Gran Via, Madrid, Spain
Madrid: The Prado houses thousands of paintings
Spain's Prado art gallery in Madrid is about to undergo a major shake-up with a modern, cube-shaped extension, by 2004.

Although it is Spain's most visited museum, and home to works by Goya, Velazquez and El Greco, less than 10% of its 15,000 works of art is actually on display.

One of its most famous treasures is Las Meninas (The Ladies in Waiting) by Velazquez.

Plans are also under way to secure autonomy from the state for the museum - and with it, freedom to court private funding.

The museum's director Miguel Zugaza said: "I hope to bring my experience and my youth to this double transformation."

The museum needs to improve its image both inside Spain and abroad.

Miguel Zugaza

Mr Zugaza was appointed head of the world-famous museum following the resignation of Fernando Checa in December after a management dispute.

The 37-year old made his name at Bilbao's Museum of Fine Arts, whose fortunes he was widely credited with revitalising.

He said of the Prado: "The museum needs to improve its image both inside Spain and abroad."

Saturn eating his children
Goya's "black" paintings are displayed at the Prado

It had "problems that other museums of its stature solved 10 or 15 years ago", he added.

The museum is currently too short-staffed to provide guides for its 1.8 million annual visitors.

Some 50 posts remain unfilled after a hiring freeze imposed by the ministry of culture, which directly controls the institution.

See also:

05 Apr 01 | Arts
Museum rejects Goya claims
04 Dec 01 | Arts
Spanish museum director quits
09 Jan 01 | Entertainment
'Dazzling' museum blighted by stains
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