We have been visiting the Museo Sorolla whenever we were in Madrid and for YEARS. Their website says the Sorolla Museum Foundation was created through the bequest of Clotilde García del Castillo, the painter's widow, who bequeathed her personal collection of his “paintings, notes and drawings” and the family home to the Spanish State in her 1925 will, in order to create a Museum in remembrance of her late husband. The State accepted the bequest and the Sorolla Museum opened as the Sorolla Museum Private Educational Foundation.
It remained in this form until 1993, when new regulations prohibited the State from owning foundations. The institution was then divided into two: The Sorolla Museum, dependent on the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, and the Sorolla Museum Foundation, which is still connected to the Museum and is governed by its Board.
When we first visited - pre 1993 - the ceilings were peeling, the walls were damp and the place was virtually devoid of visitors - though the art was absolutely STUNNING and made us Sorolla aficionados for life. Over the years the building has had vast improvement, the programme of exhibitions and hangings has extended or been changed around and more areas of the house have increasingly been opened up to visitors. When we visited last week the museum was seriously over-crowded - rather in the manner of 'block buster' exhibitions at a National Gallery though without the space or systems to deal with such numbers. It was wonderful to see so many people now appreciating the superb paintings of this talented artist brought about by the generous bequest of his wife but, oh something has to be done about the numbers, organisation of this success and, to be honest, one or two of the staff. We were treated with consideration and politeness. We didn't have to queue to obtain our tickets as the attendant pulled us from the queue blocking the door to the shop/ticket office/left luggage/and toilets, took our age validations and returned with our free entry tickets. Wonderful, simply wonderful not even to have to pay to see Sorolla's stunning paintings even if we were shoulder to shoulder with other enamoured visitors. We noted though that one of the attendants in the main studio was just WAITING for a visitor to put a toe on one of the rugs on the floor before rudely reproving them. Curators, put a little chain round it so people know they're not allowed to stand on it, or round any precious items they're not allowed too near to so they don't fall foul of the attendants. The little dried flower bundles and pine cones indicating people may not sit on the chairs is discreet, charming and seems effective.
As it happens this current temporary exhibition wasn't for me because the dark environment and oddly positioned lighting played havoc with my sight. The opening up of a different route to get back downstairs certainly should help for a 'through route' but then one finishes up at the front of the house, the opposite side of the building from the shop and temptingly close to the gateway to the street without having to make any post visit purchase. We did work our way back to the shop through the artists in the garden/more folk queueing for tickets to select, and join the queue to pay for our purchases but PHEW! It had to be someone as talented as Sorolla to give us the enjoyment of visiting the Museo Sorolla. Either the admission price has to be raised (would be worth every cent!) or timed, limited number admissions system has to be introduced. We enjoyed Sorolla's paintings for FREE and with not another soul around in the Fundacion Maria Cristina Masaveu Peterson and also in the Prado which is free in the evenings. The Museo Sorolla is now a victim of its own success and needs some tweaking - if not re-thinking. We love it, love it....but....