Museums in Barcelona
The list of different kind of amusements in Barcelona is a long one. Some people come here to lay on the beach and soak up the sun before heading back to dull and more bleak climates. Some come here and party so hard they barely see the sunlight and it is only once the sun sets that they emerge to kick off another evening of hedonism. Amazingly some fly to Barcelona and spend their entire time in Irish bars that look absolutely identical to the ones back home. All of these are perfectly acceptable for a holiday (apart from the last one seriously what are you lot doing!?!?)
But if you are coming to Barcelona for the culture you are in for a real treat. There are a huge number of beautiful churches around the city (not least Segrada Família) the history of the city is a long and fascinating one, there are art galleries and there are museums. A good holiday calls for variety. By all means get your tan on the beach, party all night but at some point you should probably pop into one of those museums to have a look. Prove to your mothers you are doing something cultural on your trip overseas!
So here is a run down of the top five museums in Barcelona.
Carrer Montcada 15-23, 08003, Barcelona, Spain
This is certainly the most popular of the museums as for anyone not particularly astute to art history Picasso is still a name that rings a bell in most heads. The museum spread over five palaces—we’d expect nothing less for Picasso, who moved to Barcelona as a 14-year-old boy and made frequent trips back throughout his life. Downstairs, a courtyard and Gothic archways lead into white studios that illuminate his works. Upstairs, the rooms are lavish: epic painted ceilings that almost drip crystal chandeliers. Visitors flock for Picasso’s work, but the special setting is why they come back again and again.
If you are coming here looking for some of Picasso’s most celebrated works you will be disappointed…for a few minutes. Guernica resides in the Reina Sofía in Madrid, The Weeping Woman at London’s Tate Modern. Here however, in chronological order, it shows every brushstroke of how he moved from a classically trained painter to a Cubist pioneer. I’m sure not many of you knew that Picasso made ceramics as well? Some 41 pieces were donated by his widow, Jacqueline Roque and are available for viewing here.
Opens Monday 10am-5pm, Tuesday to Sunday 9am-8.30pm
Entrance is free on Thursday evenings (6 p.m. to 9.30 p.m.), and the first Sunday of the month. Otherwise, tickets are €12
Av. De Les Drassanes, 08001, Barcelona, Spain
At the bottom of La Rambla on the right hand side you will find Drassanes metro stop. Drassanes means shipyard, but this one specialized in building galleys—elongated warships rowed by a squad of sailors (sadly, often slaves) with pole-length oars. Today, Barcelona’s impressive former galley-maker is its maritime museum celebrating everything ship based, but from the safety of dry land. Many people come just to look at the building as it is an impressive structure of Gothic-style vaulted ceilings and huge windows. Excavations in 2012 even uncovered a Roman necropolis, some relics from which are on display.
There are interesting exhibits regardless of how much you love ships and boats. Outside the center, there’s a life-size copy of one of the world’s first submarines, the Ictíneo I. Inside, the museum’s star inhabitant is a 60-meter replica of the galley used by Juan of Austria when he commanded the victorious fleet at the Battle of Lepanto, defeating the Ottoman army.
Open everyday 10am-6pm
Entrance 5 euros, free on Sundays.
Museu Europeu d’Art Modern
Palau Gomis, an 18th-century palace hiding down a side street in El Born, which is known as the more ‘artsy’ district of Barcelona’s city centre. This is not only an art museum but an interact theatre. People congregate here for one of the museum’s weekly classical or blues concerts held amidst its art collection—hence why the MEAM calls itself a “living museum.” Living, because it gives people an experience of art that goes beyond staring at an abstract canvas for two seconds, having a feeling of not getting it, and then forgetting it.
This idea of living art is reflected, quite literally, in the collection. The eyes of portraits, many done to an unnerving level of photorealism, follow you around the room. Some you simply won’t believe are not photographs until you’re millimeters away and finally see the (head-bafflingly precise) brush strokes. The works are deliberately chosen to stay with you long after you visit, and the curation really succeeds with that.
Open Tuesday to Sunday 11am-7pm
Entrance 8.55 euros
Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, Parc de Montjüic, Barcelona, Spain
Constructed for the International Exhibition of 1929, the Palau Nacional of Montjuïc is now home to the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. The museum is perhaps the most varied and comprehensive collection of Catalan art in the world, with works ranging from Romanesque murals and religious paintings, to examples of Catalan Modernism and photography – not to mention the incredible view of Barcelona from its front steps. This is also where the magic fountain is every evening. Water shoots high in the air, changing into a multitude of colours along with the sound of music it is certainly a must visit while you are in the city!
Opening Tuesday to Saturday 10am-8pm, Sunday 10am-3pm
Entrance is 12 euros however it is free after 3pm on Saturdays and on the first Sunday of every month.
Museu del Disseny de Barcelona
Museu del Disseny de Barcelona, Plaça de Les Glóries Catalans 37, Barcelona, Spain
Whether you’re interested in fashion, furniture, graphic design, decorative arts, or architecture, the Design Museum of Barcelona has it all. Situated in Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes, the new museum is a combination of four of the city’s previous collections which focus on the art of the object and design, all in one grand location. The futuristic building – designed with a stapler in mind – sits between two equally impressive architectural neighbors: Torre Agbar (one of the most recent additions to the Barcelona skyline) and Els Encants, a flea market located beneath a mirrored pavilion.
Open Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 8pm
Entrance price 6 euros
There are certain museums in Barcelona which are free on some Sundays (mostly the first Sunday of the month) The list changes a lot on which museums and the time of year etc so please check online before you arrive for an updated list.