Letter from Madrid: The Director of the Reina Sofía on What It Will Take for Museums to Rise Again – and What They Can Do in the Meantime

The director of Madrid’s Reina Sofia Museum calls for a Marshall Plan-style effort to rebuild culture in the wake of the crisis.

It is hard to believe, but it was less than five weeks ago that Madrid’s art museums were thronged with visitors and its international art fair, ARCO, was in full swing. Now, the city’s art institutions are shuttered indefinitely and the fair’s venue has been transformed into a temporary field hospital. The director of Madrid’s Reina Sofía Museum has been working to keep his institution operating remotely in the hopes that it can serve as a beacon to those looking for inspiration. He reports that although some of his staff members are sick, none have died, and that they have kept their jobs thanks in part to Spain’s governmental assistance program. Borja-Villel has led Spain’s national museum of Modern and contemporary art since 2008 and also serves as a leading member of the Institute of Radical Imagination. As experts predict the coronavirus death toll has peaked in hard-hit Spain, the curator and art historian reflects on what the pandemic might mean for society and cultural life in the future.