Conde Duque was reborn in 1983 as a cultural centre, after serving as the barracks of the Royal Guard Corps since 1717. The centre went through a complete transformation, which began in 2005, the year in which the Conde Duque Master Plan was presented. This plan was completed in 2011 and consisted of a complete renovation of the building, which now makes 58.777 m² available to the people of Madrid, compared to the previously usable 48.512 m². The plan also involved relocation to the North Patio of the already existing offices dedicated to basic cultural services, including the City Archive (Archivo de Villa), the Municipal History Library (Biblioteca Histórica), the Conde Duque Public Library (Biblioteca Pública Conde Duque), the Víctor Espinós Musical Library (Biblioteca Musical Víctor Espinós), the Municipal History Library (Hemeroteca Municipal) and the Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art of Madrid (Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Madrid). In turn, the spaces devoted to cultural programming and promotion were moved to the South Patio, including the Music and Exhibition Rooms, the Theatre and the Events Room.
The magnitude of the current Conde Duque project should not let us forget the building's previous ‘lives,’ in which it was a national reference point for contemporary art exhibitions and specially a careful guardian of the historical memory of Madrid.
In the eighties, Conde Duque was a melting pot of the ideas and cultural projects that the decade produced. Conde Duque was an active participant in the many cultural movements of the era, a time when artists of all types and backgrounds passed through its doors. During this time the Spanish Museum of Contemporary Art was also being transformed into what would later become the Reina Sofia National Art Museum. The Conde Duque cultural centre filled the gap that this transformation made with an exhibition programme that concentrated on 20th century Spanish art, the Madrid School, and collections of living artists. It was during these years that Luis Caruncho directed the centre, until 1991, and then again during 1993 – 1995. During this time, Conde Duque offered two temporary exhibition rooms on the lower floor (the Pedro de Ribera and Juan de Villanueva Rooms, another on the first floor (the Juan Gris Room) and an events room.
Throughout the nineties and the beginning of the new millennium, Conde Duque continued to grow in its range of installations, activities and ambitions. Under the direction of Antonio Maura (1991 – 1993) the centre incorporated an auditorium for classical music and took part in many of the city's celebrations including Madrid: European Capital of Culture 1992, with expositions such as VideoClip 92, European Panorama of Video Art (Panorama europeo del Videoarte ) and Proposals for a Dreamt-of Madrid (Propuestas para un Madrid soñado (de Texeira a Castro). Under third Conde Duque director Álvaro Martínez Novillo (1995-2000) the centre continued to develop, with two new temporary exhibition rooms (the Vaulted Room and Gallery 98). Its exhibition, concert and activity programme also increased considerably. Many will still remember the first sole exhibitions of artists who had previously been excluded from the city's standard cultural programming such as Isabel Quintanilla, Paco López Hernández, Ouka Lele, Manolo Hugué, Ops/El Roto/Andrés Rábago, Dis Berlin and Sigfrido Martín Begué. The summer music festival Los Veranos de la Villa, a key annual event in the city, also took place on Conde Duque's popular Central Terrace during the nineties and during the start of the new millennium.
From the year 2000, under the direction of fourth director Juan Carrete, the centre surprised the city of Madrid by involving itself in a line of work that was unlike anything else that the centre had previously participated in. It involved a studio of digital art called Medialab, which took up a large part of the cultural centre's space and programming.
The first general coordinator of Conde Duque Cultural Centre, in 2013, was Pablo Berástegui. This Conde Duque management team suggested strategic guidelines for developing the centre programme based on activities that had been taking place there since October 2012. In 2014, a new cultural programming coordination team was created, led by Concha Hernández. At the same time, the Museum of Contemporary Art and exhibition programming, in addition to other institutions, moved back under the General Directorate of Libraries, Archives and Museums.
Today, after the opening of the new installations, inaugurated in 2011, and a complete reorganisation of the centre, Conde Duque has become an essential pillar of Madrid's cultural activity. It is proud to be one of the city's three large metropolitan cultural centres, alongside Matadero Madrid Contemporary Arts Centre and CentroCentro.
A cultural space of 58,777 m² (previously 48,512 m²) was made available to the people of Madrid