The best unknown museums of Madrid

There are some must-see museums in the capital of Spain the traveller should definitely check out when visiting Madrid. More specifically, the ones located in the Golden Triangle: the Prado Museum, the Reina Sofía Art Centre and the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum. However, one can find other museums in Madrid that are less touristy, but widely known as well. That would be the case of the Naval Museum or the Museo de Ciencias Naturales. The list goes on and on, reaching a series of hidden, secret collections that are equally worth admiring: the unknown museums of Madrid. Some of them keep renowned artworks, like the famous painting Witches’ Sabbath by Goya. Others surprise us with different kinds of collections, like the museum of forensic anthropology. 

Visiting the unknown museums of Madrid

The museum of forensic anthropology 

The Faculty of Medicine of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid

The Faculty of Medicine of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. | Wikimedia

Madrid’s museum of forensic anthropology, founded by the university professor Reverte Coma, is one of the most peculiar unknown museums of Madrid. Its history is closely related to the Faculty of Medicine of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, whose labs gathered an interesting collection of bone remains from different sources during the 80s. Dr. José Manuel Reverte decided to open a museum to exhibit said objects so that students of medicine and other similar fields could personally examine them. 

The museum opened its doors to the public in 1996. As stated by the university, by 1997 they had already gathered 2000 skulls, a collection of South American and Egyptian mummies, bones found in archaeological excavations, Judicial Archives and murder weapons. 

African Museum

More than displaying a set of items, the African Museum provides a journey into the heart of the continent, which has been stereotyped and ostracised by Western culture so many times. It was founded in 1985 by the Misioneros Colombianos, and it aims at becoming an open window to the African continent. 

To that end, the building exhibits objects from different African countries, as well as private collections. All visits, which are always guided, include four phases: African clothing, hunting tools, musical instruments, artworks and, lastly, a brief introduction to the spiritual life of Africa. 

Museo de Veterinaria Militar

This might be the strangest museum from the list yet. Just as its name suggests, the Museum of Military Veterinary Medicine (originally in Spanish, “Museo de Veterinaria Militar”) is a collection of objects that tell the history of military veterinary medicine. The museum opened in 1942, it lies in the Centro Militar de Veterinaria de la Defensa (“Military Centre of Veterinary Defence”) and it exhibits a series of items related to the subject: uniforms, surgical instruments, vet equipment… 

Museo ABC de Dibujo e Ilustración

Exterior of the Museo ABC

Exterior of the Museo ABC. | Wikimedia

Museo ABC opened in 2010, and one of the most remarkable aspects about it is probably its location: a futuristic building that was also the first factory of Mahou beer in the capital. It was designed by architect José López Salaberry, who also designed other avant-garde buildings such as the Casino de Madrid. Years later, the architects of Aranguren & Gallegos renovated the place. 

Regarding the interior of the museum, which shares space with the Centro Cultural Clara del Rey, it hosts a collection of about 200 000 drawings by more than 1 500 artists. These pieces go all the way from 1891 to the late 20th century, and they have all illustrated the pages of the Spanish daily newspaper ABC or the magazine Blanco y Negro. All in all, these artworks explore the history of Spain through illustrations. 

The Lázaro Galdiano Museum

The Lázaro Galdiano Museum

The Lázaro Galdiano Museum. | Shutterstock

This is another unknown museum of Madrid. However, experts consider it really valuable, and it is an essential museum when it comes to looking at the history of art. It was inaugurated in 1951 with more than 12 600 pieces gathered by collector and editor José Lázaro Galdiano. It is worth mentioning the paintings, drawings and engravings by renowned Spanish artist Francisco de Goya here. This museum holds some of his most notable works, like Witches’ Sabbath, or The Adolescent Saviour, painted in the art studio of Leonardo da Vinci. We can recognise many other renowned artists here, like El Greco, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, El Bosco… 

House-museum of Lope de Vega

Entrance to the house-museum of Lope de Vega

Entrance to the house-museum of Lope de Vega. | Wikimedia

Lope de Vega is one of the most acclaimed writers in the history of Spain. Indeed, he played a key role in the Spanish Golden Age of literature. Between 1610 and 1635, this famous author, who also became known for his love affairs, lived in a little house on the street of Cervantes, in the area called Barrio de las Letras. After he left, this house had many other owners who renovated the property. However, in the 1930s, the Royal Spanish Academy (“Real Academia Española”) got hold of the house. They reshaped it so that it would resemble the home of the writer, and they turned it into a museum. Currently, the visitor can walk into the house of Lope de Vega, which still keeps some of the original furniture. 

Real Fábrica de Tapices 

Facade of the Real Fábrica de Tapices

Facade of the Real Fábrica de Tapices. | Wikimedia

The Real Fábrica de Tapices (“Royal Tapestry Factory”) is not a usual museum, since it has no free entry. Instead, one must book a visit to see it. The visitor will not only admire beautiful carpets, paintings and tapestries dating back to the 18th-20th centuries, but they will also witness how those are crafted today. The factory has never stopped running, and it keeps producing items for clients worldwide. This museum provides an interesting experience and its works of art masterfully depict Spanish textile art.  

La Neomudéjar

The building that hosts La Neomudéjar, one of the unknown museums of Madrid

The building that hosts La Neomudéjar. | Shutterstock

Without a doubt, La Neomudéjar is one of the most avant-garde museums in Madrid. It lies in an old railway workshop of Neo-Mudéjar style in Atocha, and the museum hosts a wide range of artistic disciplines, including parkour, performances, urban art, video art, sound art and new media art.  Its fundamental purpose is to act as a centre for experimentation and creation, whose collections are nomadic, alive, always in motion. 

House-museum of Ratoncito Pérez

The Spanish Tooth Fairy is actually a mouse, and he has a name: Ratoncito Pérez. The origin of this figure is uncertain, but his first recorded appearance is a tale written by Luis Coloma Roldán in the late 19th century for Spanish king Alfonso XIII when he was still a child. According to the tale, the little mouse lived in Arenal, 8, right where the current museum stands. 

This way, both kids and adults can visit the house of the beloved childhood character Ratoncito Pérez. One can get to know his home, the mailbox he uses to receive letters from children, a human-scale replica of the mouse’s study, and so on. 

The Typhlological Museum 

The Typhlological Museum, created by ONCE, is doubtlessly one of the most remarkable unknown museums of Madrid. According to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary, typhlology is “the scientific study of blindness, its causes, effects, and control”. This cultural space was inaugurated in 1992, and it lies in the street of La Coruña. The museum gathers models of monuments and other artworks created by blind people, and the main focus of the experience relies on touch and hearing. Besides, the Typhlological Museum exhibits a series of documents and materials regarding the history of blind people. 

The Cerralbo Museum

Interior of the Cerralbo Museum

Interior of the Cerralbo Museum. | Shutterstock

The Cerralbo Museum (“Museo Cerralbo” in Spanish) is a palatial house that used to belong to the marquis of Cerralbo. Interestingly enough, it was conceived as both a museum and a house from the very beginning. The visitor will be able to enjoy no less than 50 000 artworks including paintings, sculptures, tapestries, furniture and other items. This collection makes the Cerralbo Museum one of the best examples of an aristocratic dwelling from the nineteenth-century Madrid. 

You can also read this article in Spanish here.


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