A longstanding prohibition of the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid has ended. Thanks to its new director, Manuel Segade, visitors now have the permission to photograph Pablo Picasso’s iconic “Guernica” as the Spanish television station La Sexta reports. With this move Segade aims to enhance the viewing experience, albeit with restrictions against stabilizing equipment and flash photography.
Madrid stands proud as a cultural mecca with institutions like the Museo del Prado, the Museo Reina Sofía, and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. The Guernica, one of Picasso’s most famous works, has held a special allure for its visitors.
Segade explained his decision, emphasizing the prevalence of camera-mediated experiences in today’s digital age to news agency EFE: “If photographs are taken throughout the museum and, in fact, in all major museums worldwide, why should the ‘Guernica’ be an exception? Especially when, in a world perpetually viewed through lenses, iconic works like this deserve to be part of our collective memory,” he stated.
This decision is historic. The previous ban covered the entire room that housed the “Guernica” to protect the delicate masterpiece. MoMA in New York displayed the painting for 42 years before relocating it to Spain in 1981. In 1992, the painting found its home at Reina Sofía.
Technological advancements have nullified concerns regarding potential harm to the artwork from photography. Still, the museum has laid down clear rules: no stabilizers, selfie sticks, tripods, or flashes.
Some see this as part of a broader trend to democratize art experiences. Mick Jagger, who posed with the artwork in June 2022, faced social media backlash for the then-exclusive privilege. Now, every visitor can have their “Jagger moment,” albeit within the museum’s guidelines.
Only three collages by Oskar Schlemmer remain off-limits due to heirs’ restrictions. Segade hopes for a future where the museum offers 100% photographic accessibility. He emphasized that it’s a reality that especially younger generations experience the world through screens.
Historical background of Guernica
On 26 April 1937, the town of Guernica was heavily bombed by German and Italian air forces in support of Francisco Franco’s nationalist forces. The attack shocked and horrified the international community as the town was full of women and children. Picasso’s “Guernica” serves as a symbolic protest against the atrocities of war and the senseless violence inflicted upon civilians. The painting does not portray the events of the bombing literally. Instead, it’s filled with anguish, pain, and horror, symbolized by distorted figures such as a grieving mother, a fallen soldier, and a bull.
This news was created in collaboration with Open AI’s GPT-4.