There are some experiences, unusual for the way they were developed, that I never thought could be repeated, and that made them unique. It could only be a coincidence, for example, that he took me to Istanbul in the mid-1990s on the day when a census took place - one every decade - that forced the 15 million inhabitants of that metropolis to stay at home.
all day while thousands of census officers checked who was in each house. Meanwhile, foreigners could visit the wonders of the city without any of the usual impediments. Or how, after a violent storm unleashed in Venice, calm suddenly returned and he visited alone a city impossible to imagine without legions of tourists, as if it were a stone cardboard decoration. When the house confinement arrived and everything was closed, some authorized audiovisual recordings allowed me to walk alone through the streets of the Bari Vell of my city, Girona. An indelible memory of the impact of the defeat we were experiencing and the excitement of that walk. The summer of 2020 arrived and everything seemed to have a different color. But the second wave came in the fall and we had to combine many preventive measures with a certain normalcy.
So when I decided to go to the Prado Museum at three o'clock on the afternoon of November 13th, when I was in Madrid, I would never have thought about what I would find. Rather, what I would not find: no one. What he had experienced in Istanbul, Venice and Girona was repeated. And an almost existential question: are there things that make sense without people?
Once the home confinement had been lifted, the Museum had decided to organize an exhibition entitled Reencuentro in the central gallery, closing the rest of the rooms, only with the main and large works in their collection. Some "great hits" from the collection that they usually exhibit. Soon one of the museum employees warned me that nothing strange was happening when I had been there for five minutes
alone in front of Las meninas, by Velázquez; the great works of Goya, or The Annunciation, by Fra Angelico. I only came across a dozen people in a couple of hours. Arriving at what will be the final location of The Garden of Delights, I remembered that only three years before it was impossible to see this piece from afar, between arms and legs, when there was the Bosch anthology in the museum itself.
Then I wondered if it would be common to live something like this, a museum without people, when psychologists told us in those days about the cave syndrome, a certain refusal to relate to others, to return to the streets or to travel as we did before. The newspapers report these days that the restaurants are full again. Extraordinary! We hope that our museums, galleries, theaters and cinemas take the same path.