Spain’s Prado Museum renames ‘dwarf’ paintings to comply with disability law

El Niño de Vallecas: Flickr CC / Lluís Ribes Mateu 

The Prado Museum has reviewed a total of 1,800 paintings and some 27,000 texts on its website in which reference is made, in one way or another, to the word “handicapped” or pejorative terms in the descriptions of the works.

This research has been carried out with the aim of “bringing the museum into line” with the new constitutional change following the agreement between the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, and the leader of the PP, Alberto Núñez Feijoo, to eliminate the term “diminished” and replace it with “people with disabilities”. The Prado Museum has moved ahead and has already made changes to its website, posters and archives.

The term “diminished” has already been removed from the museum’s website and the museum expects the physical posters affected by this decision to be changed next week. The Prado Museum said that, “the challenge is to adapt the modifications to the constitutional change, because the term ‘diminished’ is considered offensive to people with disabilities”.

You cannot change the name of a painting

The Madrid art gallery said that, “if the term does not appear in the Spanish Constitution, it should not appear in the files or references of the paintings”. The modifications have been made to the descriptions of the works, but not to the titles, because, as they explained, “you cannot change the name of a painting”.

Terms and physical references considered pejorative have been eliminated, but not the titles created by the artists themselves. “In this way we accommodate social sensitivity without altering the historical value of the pieces or the descriptive value of the texts”.

For instance, in the painting ‘El Niño de Vallecas, by Velázquez, the word “dwarfism” has been removed from the description and the term “achondroplasia” has been added.

This is not the first time that the Prado has modified its posters. At the opening in 2022 of a new exhibition, entitled ‘El Prado en femenino, which showed the role of women as patrons, the museum eliminated terms such as “wife of” and “unattractive woman”, among others, from the posters of the works.

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Written by

Kevin Fraser Park

Kevin was born in Scotland and worked in marketing, running his own businesses in UK, Italy and, for the last 8 years, here in Spain. He moved to the Costa del Sol in 2016 working initially in real estate. He has a passion for literature and particularly the English language which is how he got into writing.