Deluxe extensions to show some of the world's finest collections of paintings. Restored historic buildings, now home to contemporary art. Avant-garde centres whose exterior is as attractive as what lies within. Museums in Spain are changing: they are adapting to visitors to offer active participation, and their architecture becomes another work of art to be admired.

The experience of visiting a museum in Spain is changing. Little by little, museums have transformed into places where visitors can enjoy the content and the building itself in many different ways. More and more often, visiting a museum in Spain does not mean just looking at the works on display. It also means discovering amazing architectural designs, dining in top restaurants, watching multimedia shows, or chatting in cosy cafés.

The contemporary art museums that have opened in recent years are especially marked by this trend. Along with the famous Guggenheim Bilbao Museum, other centres have appeared which are also noteworthy for their aesthetics. The MUSAC in León, for example, won the Mies van der Rohe Prize for European Union architecture. Meanwhile, in Vitoria-Gasteiz the Artium complex, right in the centre of the city, has been designed as a major public square, with the exhibition rooms underneath in the form of a cellar.

Meanwhile, in other Spanish cities the avant-garde comes together with tradition in the restoration of historic buildings, now the setting for modern art. This is the case of the Marco Museum in Vigo and the Es Baluard Museum in Palma de Mallorca, set in a Renaissance fortress, noteworthy for the unusual system of ramps, skylights and balconies that links its different floors. These are not the only ones: the 16th-century cloister of San Benito Monastery in Valladolid is home to the Patio Herreriano Museum, and in Seville, La Cartuja Monastery hosts the Andalusia Contemporary Art Centre (CAAC).

Neither should we forget the "classic" museums, which are also being renovated. The three protagonists of the Art Route in Madrid - the Prado Museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Reina Sofía National Museum- have extended their facilities, modernised their image and now offer visitors more innovative, inviting and attractive exhibition spaces. After the extension of the Reina Sofía, designed by renowned architect Jean Nouvel, the most recent has been the Prado Museum, by Spanish architect Rafael Moneo, whose architectural solutions receive nothing but acclaim. The IVAM in Valencia is another well consolidated museum that is currently deep in expansion plans.

Visit Spain's museums and discover a new way to live art.

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