The Museum of Fine Arts, Granada, has its roots in the confiscation promoted by minister Álvarez Mendizábal in the 19th century. Works of art were taken from abolished convents and monasteries and used to set up the Provincial Museum in the former Dominican convent of Santa Cruz la Real. It was solemnly inaugurated on 11 August 1839, as testified by the local press at the time.
This would not be the Museum's only headquarters during its long history. In 1889, it had to abandon Santa Cruz la Real, and its artistic collections were moved to the Town Hall's ground floor at calle Escudo del Carmen. It left the Council Buildings in 1897 to be relocated at 11 calle Arandas. It remained there until 1923 when it moved again to the Casa de Castril, in the Carrera del Darro. Here, it shared space with the Archaeological Museum and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Nuestra Señora de las Angustias. At this point, the long standing desire to house the Museum in the Palace of Carlos V, still unfinished and unused, was revived. In 1941, it was partially moved to the lower floor of the Palace, where three halls had been refurbished for it. However, the building's appalling state of repair required it to return to the Casa de Castril.
The combined action of two key figures in the cultural world of Granada in the mid-19th century were decisive in making the palace project reality: firstly, the perseverance of Emilio Orozco Díaz head of the Museum's management team, and the efforts of the head of the General Directorate of Fine Arts, Antonio Gallego y Burín.
As a result of the celebrations of the fifth centenary of the death of the emperor, the Museum of Fine Arts, Granada, was inaugurated at its new home on the first floor of the Palace of Carlos V on 6 October 1958. It remains there to this day. Its use for cultural purposes was the main factor driving the completion of the singular building designed by Pedro Machuca in the 16th century.
In 1984, competence for cultural affairs was transferred to the Junta de Andalucía, including management of the State Museums based in the Region. The agreement made at the time was updated in 1994, and is still in force.
In 1994, work began on refurbishing the ground floor of the Palace of Carlos V to house the Alhambra Museum and other departments. The removal of the mezzanine existing until then required moving some of the departments of the Museum of Fine Arts to the building complex known as New Museums.
Towards the end of 2003, the Museum was temporarily closed for works on climate control and upgrading the description of the museum collections. The result has been to endow the Museum with up-to-date technology that combines the conservation of moveable cultural assets with visitor comfort.
Since work started on the Palace of Carlos V in 1994, the Museum of Fine Arts, Granada, had two sites:
- Exhibition area. Situated on the first floor of the Palace of Carlos V, where there are various display areas for permanent and temporary exhibitions.
- Administrative head office. Located at unit two of New Museums, it combines functional areas such as management, administration and technical areas, as well as other departments, such as: reserved spaces, the restoration workshop, archive and library.