Museums are in party mood throughout the month of May. 18 May marks International Museum Day, and Museums Night –an original initiative featuring thousands of cultural institutions all over around Europe– usually takes place on the Saturday immediately before or after. Experience this major art festival in Spain.

International Museum Day is an event promoted by the ICOM (the International Council of Museums) in 145 countries. Its main aim is to make museum collections easily accessible to visitors of all ages, and to raise awareness among the public of the essential role played by museums in our cultural life.

On 18 May art galleries and museum venues in Spain celebrate their open doors day. You'll have the chance to visit all the museum spaces you wish for free, and to enjoy a close-up view of unique creations from a range of different periods and styles. If you're in Madrid, then don't miss the Prado National Museum, with the best of the Spanish, Italian and Flemish schools; the Thyssen-Bornemisza, with paintings by the great masters of all time; and the Reina Sofía National Art Centre, dedicated to contemporary art with works by brilliant artists such as Miró, Dalí and Picasso. Other spaces not to be missed include the Picasso Museum in Barcelona and the Picasso Museum in Malaga –both dedicated to the work of the master of Cubism–; the Dalí Museum-Theatre in Figueres in the province of Girona; the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and the Valencian Institute of Modern Art (IVAM) in Valencia, both of which showcase the latest artistic trends.

Besides free admission and guided tours, there is much, much more to enjoy. You'll have the chance to see works that are not usually on display, be given access to rooms that are generally closed to the public, attend lectures and talks, take in concerts and theatre performances, film screenings, workshops, competitions, games for children, dance shows, etc.

Museums Night

Would you like to visit a museum at night? You can do this on Saturday 18 May thanks to an interesting idea: Night of the Museums, when numerous venues extend their cultural activities beyond normal opening times. Some of them even stay open until 1 am, free of charge, and provide a range of activities including concerts, games, storytellers, audiovisual installations, special visits, theatre... This is a different way to enjoy Spain's museums and their collections, and to make the most of all the possibilities they have to offer. Do you fancy it?

Activities for a night at the museum To celebrate this very cultural evening, several museums have scheduled extraordinary activities. Here are a few examples:Prado Museum: some of its galleries, with masterpieces from the collections of Spanish, Flemish and Italian paintings, will be open from 8.30 pm to 1 am, with free admission.Reina Sofía National Art Museum: live Radio 3 concert on 17 May in the Nouvel Courtyard from 7 am to 10 pm. On 18 May, music by Radio 3 DJs from 9 pm to midnight.Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum: special opening of the permanent collection and temporary exhibitions until 1 am. Virtual reality installation, 3D videos and videomapping. Free admission. National Anthropology Museum: magic shows, tap dancing and dixie jazz music. Special opening from 8 pm to midnight and free admission.Costume Museum. C.I.P.E.: different exhibitions about the colour pink and its presence in the musical context. Special opening from 7 pm to 11.30 pm. Free admission until full.Cerralbo Museum: special opening from 5 pm to 8 pm and free admission throughout the event.National Museum of Decorative Arts: “ReStart” treasure hunt from 8 pm to 12.30 am. Free admission (while seats last)Altamira National Museum and Research Centre: with the activity “Altamira with its original light’, the museum commits to recovering the original light that illuminated the bison, deer and other painted and engraved signs that make the Altamira cave stand out. Special opening from 8.30 pm to 12 am. Free admission (while seats last)National Museum of Roman Art: “Agrippina vs Nero” activity: historical re-enactment based on two key figures from the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Special opening from 9.30 pm to 11 pm and free admission. National Sculpture Museum: flamenco micro-concerts. Special opening from 7.30 pm to 1 am and free admission. Cervantes House-Museum: special opening from 7 pm to 1 am and free admission. National Archaeological Museum: activity “Not so barbarous. The Visigoths come to the museum.” You are invited to learn more about Gothic Hispania through a historical re-enactment, music, theatre and calligraphy. Special opening from 8 pm to 12 am and free admission.Sephardic Museum: different activities such as the “From synagogue to Museum” guided tour, the presentation of the book “Memorias de una Tangerina” and the premiere of the documentary “Tu Boca en los cielos: la endiamantada historia de los sefardíes del Magreb”. Special opening from 9 pm to 11 pm and free admission.National Museum of Underwater Archaeology: art installation “Obertura” and flamenco-contemporary dance fusion “Mutantes”. Special opening from 9 pm to midnight and free admission.El Greco Museum: “Toledo past and present.” Photo collage exhibition. Special opening from 10 pm to midnight and free admission.National Museum of Romanticism: Microtheatre by La Kimera Teatro and treasure hunt. Special opening from 10.30 pm to midnight and free admission.  You can find more information about the activities here

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