From the early 20th century onwards, the Museum became a focal point for intellectuals, scholars and art lovers. It was a time of great interest in historical, popular and literary sources of what it meant to be 'Spanish'. A group of students at the Centre for Historical Studies were the founders of a critical and scientific approach to the history of art. The group included people such as Elías Tormo, Gómez Moreno, Sánchez Cantón and, in particular, Ricardo de Orueta, who took an interest in the Museum's collection, unique in its genre.
In 1933 the Second Republic decided to elevate it to the status of a National Museum, encouraged by Ricardo de Orueta, then Director General of Fine Arts. That decision went hand in hand with an intentional strengthening of his speciality, made very clear by its new name: The National Museum of Sculpture. The aim was to enhance the regional and representative feel of the collection, giving the Museum a scientific and secular orientation and extolling the wealth of Spanish heritage.
As part of the same project, the Museum was transferred to the College of San Gregorio. The collection was enriched with pieces from the Prado Museumand was presented in a model museum installation, in line with the most modern international trends. It was designed by architects Emilio Moya and Constantino Candeira, with the contribution of Sánchez Cantón.