Museum of Natural Sciences

Museum of Natural Sciences

Project: Restoration of the Museum of Natural Sciences

Location:  Madrid

Team: Javier Alau, Antonio Lopera, Alfonso Marra, José Murán.

Client: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas

Date: 01/01/1992


When Madrid´s natural science museum came into being in the 18th century, it was one of the first such institutions in Europe. At that time it was called the Real Gabinete de Historia Natural (Royal cabinet of natural history). Initially destined to occupy the Prado Museum, designed by Juan Villanueva in 1785, the natural science collection was finally housed in the north wing of the Palace of Industries and Arts at the beginning of the 20th century. When the time came to restore de museum, little remained of the elementary, open-plan, symmetrical design of the original building. Despite all of its vicissitudes, it seems to have enjoyed “excellent ill health”–meaning that it managed to survive the ravages of time- and the area housing the museum is the one that has most faithfully preserved the original layout and construction.

The criteria governing the intervention we undertook involved the expansion of the surface area of the exhibition rooms and the research and administrative areas while respecting the characteristics and qualities of the existing container. Together with this, we committed ourselves to emphasizing the newness and integrations, differentiating the pre-existing from the new. This flexibility and neutrality in the design, makes possible future museological interventions.