Palacio de Cristal is one of the two exhibition venues that Museo Reina Sofía has in Madrid's largest and best-known city park, Parque del Buen Retiro. Built by the architect Ricardo Velázquez Bosco in 1887, the palace is a reflection of the use made by architecture of what were at the time new materials and also of 19th century colonialism.
The use of cast iron combined with large areas of glass creates a surprising effect, one that is monumental and at the same time diaphanous. Originally conceived as a greenhouse in which to display plants during Madrid's Philippines Exhibition (1887), when the islands were a Spanish colony, it made a show of exoticism within a setting of technological progress, creating in visitors an image of fantasy and unreality.
Following the plant exhibition, it was used for the National Fine Arts Exhibition, an event that took place every two years. Since 1990 it has housed specific projects and installations by contemporary artists, including Gabriel Orozco, Siah Armajani, Cildo Meireles, Nacho Criado, Ilya Kabakov, Pierre Huyghe and Jessica Stockholder, reflected in these pictures, among others.