5 of the best art museums in Barcelona

Barcelona is home to some world-class art museums which should definitely be included in your sightseeing itinerary. Madrid may have El Prado, but if you’re looking for a Barcelona art fix then check out these excellent spaces. Impressive permanent collections and carefully selected temporary exhibitions explore each museum’s themes.

1. Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC)

Catalonia’s National Art Museum is located inside the imposing Palau Nacional, a magnificent Renaissance style building with a large central dome. This was constructed for Spain’s International Exhibition of 1929, and has been used as a museum since 1934. Inside you’ll find a wide variety of artistic expressions from different times and cultures. The earliest pieces are Romanesque paintings recovered from churches and monasteries of Catalonia that date back to between 600-1100 CE. Byzantine features and two dimensional figures peer out behind dark eyebrows and thick gold leaf. The Baroque collection includes masterpieces by world renowned painters such as El Greco, Velázquez, Rubens and Cranach. Modern art is also well represented, with sections dedicated to Modernism, Noucentisme and the Avantgade.

MNAC Romanic art Taull

Palau Nacional, Parc de Montjuïc

2. Picasso Museum

One of the most popular museums in Barcelona, the Museu Picasso has a fascinating collection of this ground-breaking artist’s works, especially from his earlier years. Picasso’s family moved to Barcelona when he was 14, and young Pablo immediately enrolled in the Llotja Fine Art School. His relationship with the city is well documented through paintings, engraving and sculpture, as well as lively anecdotes of his time spent in the company of other painters and writers in iconic meeting spots like the Quatre Gats restaurant which remains open today. The museum is tucked away in one of the back streets of in the Born neighbourhood in a Medieval merchant palace.

Picasso Las Meninas

Carrer de Montcada 15-19

3. Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art – MACBA

You can tell a lot about a city from its main contemporary art gallery, and the MACBA’s progressive, investigative and multicultural approach reflects an undercurrent of critical thinking that forms an integral part of the Catalan capital.  The museum opened in 1995 in the inner city neighborhood of Raval and was a key element of its urban renewal. It was designed by New York architect Richard Meier and stands out as one of the most interesting buildings in the city. The permanent collection includes outstanding works by Antoni Tàpies, Joan Brossa and Paul Klee, to name a few. Several temporary exhibitions welcome talented and often controversial international artists.

Antoni Tapies Rinzen

Plaça dels Àngels 1

4. Funadació Joan Miró

This contemporary art gallery is dedicated to the works of Catalan artist Joan Miró, and was inaugurated in 1975.  An extensive collection of Miró’s work is displayed in this fresh and modern building on Montjuïc hill. There are over 500 drawings, 250 paintings and 150 sculptures arranged in thematic rooms. The sculpture garden is especially suggestive as Miró’s abstract shapes contrast with the carefully defined nature that surrounds them, against a backdrop of Mediterranean blue sky. Works by other artists, such as the Mercury Fountain by Alexander Calder can also be seen here. Espai 13 is a section of the gallery which features works by up and coming young artists that are following Miró’s paradigm. One of the foundation’s key aims is to support new talent.

Joan Miro Pintura

Parc de Montjuïc

5. Museum of World Cultures

Inaugurated in February 2015, this new museum contains a superb collection of objects from around the globe. Exhibits from different cultures in Africa, the Americas, Indo China and Oceania give insights into the cosmological myths, religious beliefs, and social customs that shaped (and sometimes still shape) every day life around the world. There are more than 2,400 artifacts such as Mayan axes, Buddhist sculptures and African masks. Interactive displays use the latest touch-screen technology to bring photos, videos and information to life. You are invited to dive deep into this rich well of non-western artistic heritage, and re-emerge with a different perspective.

Cultures Mon Hanuman

c/ Montcada 12

Barcelona is a creative city; its art isn’t limited to galleries and museums. Stay alert as and look out for fragments of the old Roman wall  in the Gothic quarter, colourful outdoor sculptures around Port Olympic and spectacular architecture in the  Modernist Eixample district, and indeed every other Barcelona neighbourhood, and you’ll notice countless examples of interesting art all around you.

Sandra Roig is Marketing Director at Apartment Barcelona.

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