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Sunday, 14 July, 2002, 15:58 GMT 16:58 UK
Madrid's Prado renovation stalled
Skyline of Plaza de España and Gran Via, Madrid, Spain
Madrid: The Prado was built in 1819
The long-awaited expansion of Madrid's prestigious Prado Museum has been stalled by local residents.

A local group has lodged a legal objection to plans to demolish a 15th century cloister in the neighbourhood as part of the expansion plans.

The Prado is seeking to distinguish itself from two neighbouring museums - the Reina Sofia museum of contemporary art, which houses Picasso's famous Guernica, and the celebrated Thyssen-Bornemisza collection.

Saturn eating his children
Goya's "black" paintings are displayed at the Prado
The museum's plan includes dismantling the historical Jeronimo cloister, and then reconstructing it to stand inside the museum's new wing.

A citizens group in the Jeronimo neighbourhood took its objections to the supreme court, and has now won approval to put an end to the renovation work if it can raise 1.2m euros (£760,000).

"We've already received a number of calls of support from all over the country," said the association's chief, Paloma Gomez Embuena.

"It's been years that we've been fighting for this, and we'll go until the end.

'Attack'

"In one day, we raised 1,200 euros (£760) - I know we'll get there," she added.

The group is also opposed to the proposed 16,000-square metre extension, designed by Spanish architect Rafael Moneo, which it says will "disfigure the neighbourhood" and is "an attack on the national heritage".

The Prado extension will house temporary exhibits, a library, and workshop space in the museum after its planned completion in 2003.

The project is part of a huge 330m euro (£210m) restoration of the museum, which has had no major work done since it was built in 1819.

The plan, approved by the Spanish parliament in 1995, is to be carried out under new director, Miguel Zugaza.

He hopes to modernise a museum that welcomes 1.8 million visitors a year to see Spain's most celebrated masters, including El Greco, Velazquez, and Goya.

See also:

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