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. Come and experience this major festival of art in Spain.

International Museum Day is an event promoted by the ICOM (the International Council of Museums) in 145 countries. Its main objective 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 universal 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, amongst others. 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...

Museums Night

Would you like to visit a museum by night? You can usually do so on the Saturday before or after 18 May thanks to an interesting idea, known as Museums Night, 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. Sound interesting?

Activities in state-run museums To celebrate this supremely cultural night, the museums run by the Ministry of Culture and Sport have laid on a series of special activities: National Museum of Anthropology : free entry from 14:00 onwards. Special opening from 09:30 to 23:00; music and ethnic dance shows “World-museum. From one culture to another and… It's my turn!”. Sorolla Museum: special opening from 09:30 to 20:00. Free entry from 14:00 onwards. Costume Museum. Employment Promotion and Information Centre (C.I.P.E.): free entry from 14:00 onwards. Special opening from 09:30 to 23:30; concerts and workshops for children; guided tours; tour of the temporary exhibition ‘Modamorfosis’. National Museum of Romanticism: special opening from 09:30 to 00:00. Free entry from 14:00 onwards. ‘Romanticism in pills’ short recitals; ‘Mr. Hutchinson visits Madrid: English trips and tourism in the Victorian period’ musical. Museum Cerralbo: open from 09:30 to 15:00. Family workshop: the Marqués orchard. National Museum of Decorative Arts: open from 09:30 to 15:00. Free-entry special opening from 19:30 to 00:00. Storytelling; treasure hunt. Museum of the Americas: open from 09:30 to 15:00. National Museum and Research Centre of Altamira: special opening from 09:30 to 23:30. Free entry from 14:00 onwards. “Altamira in its original light”: guided tours to the neocave in its cavernous lighting; photocall; self-guided tour through the exhibition; prehistoric workshop on fire and lighting. National Museum of Roman Art: open from 09:30 to 20:00. Free entry from 14:00 onwards. Free-entry special opening from 21:00 to 00:00. Game of mirrors. National Sculpture Museum: open from 10:00 to 14:00 and from 16:00 to 19:30. Free-entry special opening from 16:00 to 01:00. Creative painting and drawing competition; concert in the Museum chapel. Cervantes House-Museum: open from 09:30 to 15:00. Free-entry special opening from 19:00 to 01:00. Theatrical reading of Short farces by Cervantes. González Martí National Museum of Ceramics and Sumptuary Arts: open from 10:00 to 14:00 and from 16:00 to 20:00. Free entry from 16:00 onwards. Musical concerts. National Archaeological Museum: open from 09:30 to 19:30. Free entry from 14:00 onwards. Free-entry special opening from 20:00 to 00:00. The exterior, gardens and exhibition halls will be lit up at night. Mystery trail and competition. Trip to the Middle Ages: dramatised monologue and medieval music concert.

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