Total number of museums: 1638
Contemporary Art: 94
Decorative Arts: 19
House-Museums: 66
Textile and clothing: 3
History: 102
Archaeology: 152
Ethnography: 163
Natural History/Science: 50
Technical Museums/Science: 47
Special: 132
Site Specific Museums: 34
General: 110
Others: 15 
Museographical collections (recognized as collections but not categorized as museums): 477

Professionally run museums:  all
Voluntarily run museums: -
Heritage Sites/Monuments: 46 on the World Heritage List

General Deputy Directorate of State Museums

Members: 16 museums managed by General Deputy Directorate of State Museums

The General Deputy Directorate of State Museums, under the General Directorate of Fine Arts and Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, is a department that manages State Museums (all of them public). Besides, assumes some tasks related to the museums that depend on the Autonomous Communities, such as funding of museographic infrastructures. There are no similar national organizations, only at local level, because some Autonomous Communities have their own public museums institutions.

    • for organisations: Free
    • for professionals: Free

    The General Deputy Directorate of State Museums is a public administrative unit that depends on the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, and therefore is not financed at all with membership fees.

    • 100% state/municipal funded
    Advocacy Initiative 

    Plan Museos+Sociales (Museums+Social Plan)
    The General Deputy Directorate of State Museums offers support in communication initiatives (web page, brochures, publications ...), and it also collaborates in the creation of calls for collective activities, such as the promotion of all Christmas activities, the Day of Museums, etc.

    Besides, the General Deputy Directorate of State Museums has recently launched the Museums+Social Plan, which was created by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports with the aim of ensuring that museum institutions adapt to the social realities of the current context, in order to be accessible and respond to the needs of all citizens, in special, those groups that have bigger difficulties for the visit or that are at risk of social exclusion. The purpose is also to give visibility to the necessary social cohesion and make the museum an element of integration and mutual knowledge, a place to share reflections and experiences, new ideas and new practices, designed to promote coexistence and respect, and respond to social, economic and cultural changes.

    Read more online.

    Other Museum Organisations at National Level

    ICOM Spanish Committe

    Regional Museums Organisations/ Institutions

    Every autonomous community has its administrative unit to manage its depending museums. There are, too, systems or nets of museums al local level, as well as several associations. The global panorama is very heterogeneous, and, due to that, we don´t specify the data of any singular organization.

    Legislation and Structure


    Royal Decree 620/1987, April 10th, which approves the Regulation of State Museums and the Spanish Museums System. More information.

    Spanish Historical Heritage Law 16/1985, June 25th (BOE June 29th, 1985). More information.

    Some Autonomous Communities have specific legislation.

    • Public Museums:
      • Public Museums can have state management and ownership (ascribed to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport or to other Ministries); state ownership but autonomic management (transferred management to the Autonomous Communities) and autonomich or local ownership and management.
      • State management and ownership: 19 of exclusive management of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, of which 16 depends on the General Deputy Directorate of State Museums and 3 depends on the General Directorate of Fine Arts and Cultural Heritage; 64 museums have state ownership but autonomic management, with transferred management to the Autonomous Communities and are managed by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport; 45 State Museums of other Ministries
      • Local government: 1.322 museums (including museums depending on Autonomous Communities, as well as those depending on municipalities).
      • Other public museums: 188 (Public Company, Public Foundation, Consortium, Various public organisms, Others, Universities)
    • Private Museums:

    - Ecclesiastical: 104 museums

    - Other private museums: 187 museums

    The prevailing types of museums numerically are public museums, with a very high number of local ownership museums.

    Public Collection Mobility

    Loan Policy
    It is described in the regulations of cultural heritage (import and export of cultural heritage pieces) in the Law 16/1985, of 25th June, of the Spanish Historical Heritage. The regulations in this regard are stricter protecting exports than imports, to curb losses of heritage. In general, this is a very broad law that contemplates how to proceed regarding national and international transfers, imports and exports.

    Heritage pieces belonging to public collections, according to the Regulation of State Museums and the Spanish System of Museums, can be "deposited" in another museum for cultural or scientific purposes. This movement does not imply change in the adscription of the piece. The regulation of the transaction stablishes many limitations, especially when it comes to heritage pieces of cultural interest (public or private ownership).

    It is taken into account, too, the European legislation: Regulation (EC) 116/2009 of the European Council and the Commission Implementing Regulation of the EU 1081/2012, to standardize authorizations for all EU countries.

    Links to Spanish and European regulations:

    State Indemnity Scheme
    There is a State indemnity called Central Government Guarantee of the State. It consists of a system of public insurance through which the Spanish State grants temporarily heritage pieces of any ownership, for public exhibition in State Museums, Archives or Libraries and other state institutions.

    The Guarantee of the State protects these works against the possible destruction, loss, theft or damage they may suffer in the period between the beginning of the loan and the time of return of the piece (insurance modality called “nail to nail”), including therefore the transport and the stay. It requires very specific conditions of use.

    Insurance Policy
    There is an insurance policy which states that every heritage piece must have to be insured, and private insurance companies have to cover any possible risk in case the Guarantee of the State does not cover it.

    Last updated in August 2018.