The starting-point of the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza’s expansion project was the need to increase its display space in order to exhibit the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection to the public. In addition, the opportunity arose to acquire two buildings next to the Palacio de Villahermosa, which made the project viable. The expansion has given the Museum 50% more surface area and has allowed it to update and improve all its installations and programmes that complement the Permanent Collection in a manner crucial for any modern museum.
Designed by the team of architects Manuel Baquero, Robert Brufau and the BOPBAA Studio (Josep Bohigas, Francesc Pla and Iñaki Baquero), the starting-point for the project was the structure and layout of the Museum. The overall intention, in combination with the museological project, was to turn the old and new building into a single space that could share activities and circulation. With this aim in mind the two buildings adjoining the Palacio de Villahermosa were partly demolished but maintaining the space at the back and the façade in order to remodel it and locate offices in this new area, a function that best suited the residential nature of these buildings. As a result the architects were able to maintain the relationship of the old façades with the surrounding area while the work undertaken freed up part of the old site in order to construct a specially-designed modern building for public use in the form of exhibition galleries. The final result is an L-shaped building that is principally occupied by offices and internal services, and which surrounds a new building connected to the Palacio de Villahermosa and used for exhibition space. The expansion thus combines respect for the original part of its rear façade with the modern exterior of the new building, whose interior distribution has been designed to continue the layout of the palatial rooms created by Rafael Moneo inside the historic Palacio de Villahermosa.
In its present configuration, the access garden to the Museum – framed by the Palacio de Villahermosa and with the white façade of the new building creating a backdrop that the grass growing on the roof of the new restaurant-cafeteria seems to climb up – has ceased to be a passing-through area and is now the exterior entrance hall of the Museum. The garden functions as a meeting place and relaxation area for visitors. The new Bookshop/Giftshop is larger and better located, allowing for a more spacious display of the items on sale, which are visible through its large windows/display cases, as well as better circulation of visitors. The temporary exhibition galleries, comprising 650 square metres of light-filled space, have an adjustable system of natural lighting, while the organisation of the space can be adapted to the requirements of each exhibition. In addition, there is the Contexts Exhibition Gallery, whose 100 square metres can be added to the temporary exhibition space. The lower floor houses the new EducaThyssen Space, which is larger and better equipped for hosting the numerous activities organised by the Museum’s Research and Further Studies department. The Museum also has a new Restoration Studio, equipped with cutting-edge technology that ensures optimum working conditions and the resources needed to undertake the delicate work of the restoration team. In addition, to facilitate the movement of works of art around the building, the restoration studio has a cargo lift that directly connects with the new Picture Store and Packing Room, which now occupies more than 250 square metres of the first basement level of the new building, along with the new Framing and Mounting Studios. The expansion has also increased the area available for offices, located on the second, third and fourth floors of the new building with direct access from calle Marqués de Cubas. Moving the old offices freed up an area now available as extra space for the Library.