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Top 10 Museums in Barcelona Spain

Updated on June 21, 2018
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Mary recently stayed in Barcelona for a few months and has fallen in love with the city and all its interesting history and attractions.

Museum of Catalan History
Museum of Catalan History | Source

My Top 10 Museums in Barcelona

Museums are not just repositories of the past and the old. No. They engage and awaken the creative in us which drives our own development. There is no better way to flex such creativity than to be exposed to art, to do art and to engage with history.

Fossils, ethnographic and historical evidence may not be your interest but allow these to tell you about the human spirit as it uses its creative potential to tell how the aworld changed.

When we visited Barcelona in the winter of 2017-18 and stayed there for almost 3 months, we really had a chance to visit many of its museums not just once for some but several times. A few were boring, some were obsessed with Catalan independence but choosing 10 was a tough choice but here they are:

1. Museum National of Art in Catalonia

2. Joan Miro Museum

3. Picasso Museum

4. Maritime Museum of Barcelona

5. Caixa Forum

6. Ethnology Museum

7. Museum of the History of Catalunya

8. European Museum of Modern Art

9. Olympic and Sports Museum

10. Casa Mila

Apse of St. Climent
Apse of St. Climent | Source

Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya

If you're interested in knowing more about the evolution of Catalan art, this is the Museum to visit. The curators have done this beautifully in the way they display collections from the earliest days to the modern. In each of these, they showcase the Catalan artists and the local and international influences that strongly shaped their art.

There are 3 major displays: Romanesque, Renaissance and Modern Art. The Romanesque collection, one of the best in the world, displays in a Church-like setting the murals and statues, mostly religious, that came from the remote old Churches, many in the foothills of the Pyrenees. One of the masterpieces you must not miss as you can only see it in this museum is the Apse of St. Climent by the Master of Taull.

The Renaissance display moves towards Catalan artists doing commissions from the new rich bourgeoisie and developing their own style and expression though largely influenced by the art movement in Europe especially France and Italy. The collection also includes other popular international artists at that time.

The Modern Art dispay shows contemporary artists like Dali and Picasso as well as the other more recent Catalan artists. Each gallery is an architectural beauty.

The building itself, constructed for the opening of the 1929 International Exhibition, is amazing inside and out with views of Barcelona and even a distant peek at Gaudi's great work, Sagrada Familia.


Joan Miro Sculpture
Joan Miro Sculpture | Source

Fundacio Joan Miro

Fundacio Joan Miro was started by the painter himself who wanted to have a centre to make art easily accessible to the public. He relinquished a majority of his works, over 10,000 paintings, drawings, sculptures, stage designs and wall hangings, to the Museum which was opened on June 10, 1975. The earliest of these works was dated 1901. Since then, the Museum continues the vision of its founder and in 1977, it won the European Museum of the Year Award.

You can see in Joan Miro's works the vivid colours, the revolutionary soul, the integration of various materials into art pieces which largely characterize his modern view. Beyond Miro's works, the Museum organizes alternating exhibitions of artists from the 20-21st century, cultural events and research projects. One of the most engaging is the "Nits de Musica (Nights of Music) where international artists play classical music every Thursday.

The building in itself is worth seeing. It was designed by the first modern internationally renowned Spanish architect, Josep Lluís Sert, who was at one time the head of the School of Design at Harvard University in the U.S.

Picasso Museum in Barcelona
Picasso Museum in Barcelona | Source

Picasso Museum

The Picasso Museum is huge, housed in 5 large contiguous palaces dating as early as the 13th century in the Carrer de Moncada. Picasso lived in Barcelona during the years when he was learning his art so this made him feel a close link to the city. As such, he chose Barcelona for the museum so his close friend and personal secretary, Jaume Sabartes, worked with the city council and made available his own collections of Picasso's work. Picasso was very much involved in the design but he was not present for the opening because he swore he would not go back to Spain as long as Franco was in power.

Opened in 1963, the Museum got other endowments like the donation by Salvador Dali of the illustrated book, Les Metamorphoses d'Ovide which contained 30 etchings by Picasso and the only cubist collage at the Museum donated by Gala. The Museum also acquired other collections making it a rich resource for those who want to study Picasso in-depth.

To see the collection, you enter a courtyard and access the main floor via and outdoor stairway but there are elevators for those who need them. The Museum organizes exhibitions to highlight some of Picasso's works. Some of these exhibitions include: Picasso's Kitchen, Picasso Discovers Paris, Pablo Picasso and the Publishers Gustavo Gili, and Sabartes by Picasso.

The Museum also has a Library which is open by prior appointment for those who want to study the painter. The Library has a documentary collection on the artist and has a reading room with open access to documents and 18 work desks where you can really dig in. To access this free service, call this telephone (+34) 93 256 30 31 to set an appointment.


Maritime Museum of Barcelona

Given that Spain was a great maritime power and Barcelona, an important port in the Mediterranean, this Museum is located inside Barcelona Royal Shipyard that was used to build galley ships for wartime.

The displays show the history of navigation and sea exploration from the early days focusing on the Spanish navy since the reign of the Catholic Monarchs in the 15th century. It is also interesting to see several navigation instruments, weapons, portolans and paintings, but the showpieces are the large boats used by the Spanish navy.

It is located in Port Vell so it is a great place to visit as you take a stroll through Barcelona's sea port.

Caixa Forum
Caixa Forum | Source

Caixa Forum Barcelona

Built as a textile factory, CasaRamona, it was designed by one of the Modernist Art Noveau architects, Josep Puig i Cadafalch, as a display of humanitarian ideals spread to workers. CaixaForum in Barcelona has one of the richest collections of modern art in Europe, including works of Beuys, Anish Kapoor, Juan Usle and Tony Cragg.

The Japanese architect Arata Isozaki added to the entrance area designed by Mees Van De Rohe to the renovated building, welcoming visitors with a tree made of steel and glass.

Beyond the amazing modernist architecture of the building, there are interesting exhibitions here. As an example, when we visited, the exhibition was from the British Museum on Greek Classical Art. This Museum organizes many public activities and its gift shop has many books and toys for kids.

Barcelona Ethnology Museum
Barcelona Ethnology Museum | Source

Ethnology Museum of Barcelona

This Museum was created in 1962 from two museums built in the 1940s, the Popular Arts and Industries Museum (1942) and the Ethnologic and Colonial Museum (1949). Its permanent collection displayed on the ground floor has the theme "Feel our Heritage" as it highlights the traditional life of people in the Catalan region. The display divided the space into 6 areas which highlight the Catalan heritage: the Boat, the Winepress, the Loom, the Shepeherd's Cabin, the Blacksmith's Shop and the Herbalists corner.

A provoking display on the interconnectedness of world cultures engages visitors to an appreciation of this. There are other temporary exhibitions, concerts and other activities which you can check out in the Museum website. The Museum is very eager to promote Catalan culture and underline its uniqueness in Spain.

Museum of Catalan History
Museum of Catalan History | Source

Museum of Catalan History

Used as a warehouse in the 19th and 20th century, the Museum gives a very interesting overview of Catalan history from the time when they were hunters and gatherers to the rule of the Iberians, the age of the Romans and to the Middle Ages. This is followed by an interesting display on the suppression of the Catalan culture before and during the Franco reign.

Don't miss the top-floor restaurant and rooftop terrace which offers stunning views of Port Vell and Montjuïc. In front, there are many seaside restaurants where you can enjoy a meal and watch the yachts and tourists in promenade at the seaside.

Museum of European Modern Art
Museum of European Modern Art | Source

European Museum of Modern Art

Opened in June 2011, under the Foundation for the Arts and Artists which was created in 2005 to promote figurative artists and to provoke artists to use new approaches. It was also designed to change our perspective of art from the usual representations into new modes and mediums.

The Museum collection is not the usual and it will challenge your thinking about art. The Museum offers courses and workshops as part of their education program but some of the events are interesting like the Friday Blues and the Summer Opera on Sunday afternoons. There are competitions as well like the recent one on modern photography. You can check the website for more upcoming events.

Olympic and Sports Museum in Barcelona
Olympic and Sports Museum in Barcelona | Source

Olympic and Sports Museum

Opened in 2007 at the Olympic Ring in Barcelona, the Olympic and Sports Museum Juan Antonio Samaranch promotes different facets of sports using interactive displays and the Olympic Games as well. It is an entertaining and educational experience to know more in-depth about the Olympics.

It is also a display on how technology has affected sports. But the memorabilia is impressive especially of the Olympics in Barcelona. It is an easy walk from the Stadium so spend a bit of time and explore this Museum.

Casa Mila
Casa Mila | Source

Casa Mila

Barcelona is not complete without Gaudi and Casa Mila or La Pedrera being the last of Gaudi's buildings before his complete immersion in the Sagrada Familia. Located in the Eixample, it is also called La Pedrera or the Quarry House because of its unusual construction of irregular shapes like a solid rock broken by waves.

Its Modernist organic design resembles Nature closely. It is something that attracts attention of every passer by. In its attic which is quite large, there is an exhibition on Gaudi's life and works.

But what fascinates the crowd that line up to enter this building is the rooftop with its unusual chimneys, ventilation shafts looking like knights guarding the Palace, and the staircases all created with imaginative shapes and colours. Because of these Modernist groundbreaking details, it certainly deserves its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Video of Casa Mila or La Pedrera

Museums' Addresses and Opening Hours

Museums
Address
Opening Hours
1. Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya
Palau Nacional, Parc de Montjuïc, s/n, 08038 Barcelona, Spain
Tuesday-Saturday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
2. Fundacio Joan Miro
Parc de Montjuïc, s/n, 08038 Barcelona, Spain
Tuesday - Saturday:10 a.m. - 8 p.m.; Sunday:10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
3. Picasso Museum
Carrer Montcada, 15-23, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
Monday From 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Sundays From 9am to 8.30pm Thursday From 9am to 9.30pm; Closed:1st January 1st May 24th June 25th December; Reduced Opening Hours:24th December From 9am to 2pm 31st December From 9am to 2pm 5th January From 9am to 5pm; Free of Charge: Thursday afternoons from 6.00pm to 9.30pm, First Sunday of each month, from 9am to 8.30pm, Open Door days: 18th May and 24th September
4. Maritime Museum of Barcelona
Av. de les Drassanes, s/n, 08001 Barcelona, Spain
10:00 am-8:00 pm from Monday to Sunday. Hours may differ on big feasts
5. CaixaForum
Av. de Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, 6-8, 08038 Barcelona, Spain; Phone: +34 934 76 86 00
Daily: 10.00-20.00 July and August, Wed.: 10-23.00; Closed on 1 Jan., 6 Jan. and 25 Dec.
6. Ethnology Museum of Barcelona
Passeig de Santa Madrona, 08038 Barcelona; Phone: +34 934 24 68 07
Tue-Sat 10am-7pm, Sun and Bank Hols 10am-8pm; Closed Mon, 1 Jan, 1 May, 24 Jun and 25 Dec
7. Museum of Catalan History
Pl. de Pau Vila, 3 (Palau de Mar); Phone: +34 932 254 700
Tu. - Sa.: 10.00-19.00 Wed.: 10.00-20.00 Su. and public holidays: 10.00-14.30; Monday closed (except public holidays). Closed on 1 May, 5 June, 25/26 Dec. and 1 and 6 Jan.
8. European Museum of Modern Art
Barra de Ferro, 5 08003 Barcelona; Tel. (+34) 933 195 693
Tuesday to Sunday, from 11m to 7pm
9. Olympic and Sports Museum
Avinguda de l'Estadi, 60, 08038 Barcelona, Spain
Tuesday to Saturday, from 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.; Sunday, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
10. Casa Mila
Passeig de Gràcia, 92; Phone: +34 902 202 138
March to November. Monday to Sunday: from 9am to 8pm (last admission: 7.30pm); November to February. Monday to Sunday: from 9am to 6.30pm (last admission: 6pm); Closed: 25 December, and one week in January for maintenance, 1 January: special opening hours from 11am
Top 10 Museums of Barcelona
CaixaForum
CaixaForum | Source

Poll on the 10 Top Museums of Barcelona

Which of these museums in Barcelona is the most interesting?

See results

Barcelona as a Museum City

Barcelona is a vibrant living city with a host of activities. But it is much more and as the home of Catalan culture, its Museums are part of continuing struggle for cultural recognition.

Though I only included 10 museums here, Barcelona as a city is in itself a Museum. As you stroll the various neighbourhoods, look up and you will be fascinated by the architecture, paintings, sculptures and the beautifully decorated doors to the stores. So, spend some time and just let the beauty of art engulf you.

© 2018 Mary Norton

Comments

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    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      2 months ago

      Convenient transportation is a big plus.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      2 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Yes, there are many museums to visit and the transport is good that doing day trips is easy.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      2 months ago

      It seems Barcelona is everything the travelogues claim it is. It must have been wonderful visiting all these museums.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      3 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Liz, you do the same in your articles. I love going to museums and spend time in them for its histroy and for art.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      3 months ago from UK

      I really enjoy reading your articles on Barcelona. Your guides are better than reading a travel book on the city.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      3 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Yes, Ellen, there are more museums there I haven't visited.

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 

      3 months ago from Connecticut, USA

      I didn't realize Barcelona had so many museums.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      3 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank you Viet doan. We spent hours in this museum as well but loved the way they arranged the paintings and the other exhibits. It is a beautful museum.

    • punacoast profile image

      Viet Doan 

      3 months ago from Big Island, Hawaii

      Excellent article Mary! I also fell in love with Barcelona during my visit in 2016. My favorite museum - Muse Nacional d'Art de Catalunya where I spent hours looking at incredible art collections! I was especially impressed by the artwork of Gala - the wife of Salvador Dali. Her paintings are not as well known as those of her famous husband, but so fascinating nevertheless.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      4 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank you Shaloo.

    • swalia profile image

      Shaloo Walia 

      4 months ago from India

      very informative and thorough article!

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      4 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Li-Jen, you're always generous with your comments on my articles. Thank you for your continuing interest. We really loved Barcelona when we were there last winter and its museums are worth visiting.

    • Li-Jen Hew profile image

      Li-Jen Hew 

      4 months ago

      Hi Mary..you really make places more exciting with your share of knowledge and experience. It is worth knowing the purpose of how buildings were founded..whether by culture etc. Haha and you're right about Barcelona...it's a museum as well...especially since you shared plenty. :) And your effort in sharing the opening hours..just wow! Thank you! :)

    • JR Cuevas profile image

      Ray 

      4 months ago from Philippines

      Wow Ma'am, a great compilation of museums in Barcelona. Barcelona Spain has been one of my dream vacation destinations. I hope to see any of those museums someday.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      4 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank you Ajodo. I love art and beauty in any form so I seek it out in my travel.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      4 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      We do love strolling in Las Ramblas and go in La Boqueria for a bite but I like most getting into the tiny alleys and exploring the areas around Las Ramblas. Born would be another favourite.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      4 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Because you're so close to Nature, you will love all of Gaudi's works

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      4 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Yes, the genius of Gaudi is beyond classification in Art. He loves Nature and he bases his Art on what he sees in it. It's like a big rock with waves around it.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      4 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      You are so right. It awakens the creative spark that lies dormant in us. Because we are History majors, we always enjoy the history of any place we visit.

    • Endy Noble profile image

      Ajodo Endurance Uneojo 

      4 months ago from Lokoja, Nigeria.

      Lovely collections Mary!

      Your presentation always move my world beyond its known boundaries.

      What a great way to connect with places and things of arts one haven't seen first hand.

      You are a good teacher. Thanks for sharing.

    • dredcuan profile image

      Dred Cuan 

      4 months ago from California

      I've been in Barcelona twice, but wasn't able to see all the museums there. But will try to visit all next time. By the way, what your favorite part in Barcelona? As for me, the Las Ramblas as always. It's really beautiful! Plus cheap buys too.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      4 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is another very interesting travel article. Casa Mila looks especially interesting, but I would like to visit all the museums that you've described.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      4 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Mary, this was a wonderfully thorough and well-researched article. I will probably never get to Spain to visit any of these wonderful museums but you have covered much of what is on offer. It was also difficult to choose which I would most like to see but I chose Casa Mila because of its distinct architecture.

    • Bede le Venerable profile image

      Bede 

      4 months ago from Minnesota

      Mary- you were quite fortunate to drink in so much art and beauty for three months. I think I would especially enjoy the Catalan, Maritime, and History Museums. I studied near Florence for a semester of college, so I know the effect of immersion in culture/beauty.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      4 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank you Bill. Hope you do as I do your guides several times.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      4 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      And to you, too, Heidi. I was impressed by the collections in the Picasso Museum, certainly the best in the world.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      4 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank you Fay. You do as well, in fact, more than I do.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      4 months ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Mary. Wonderful guide to the museums of Barcelona. I look forward to visiting someday soon.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      4 months ago from Chicago Area

      More for the "when I get to Barcelona" list! I've seen the Picasso museum on some TV documentaries. Definitely would love to check that out. Thanks for sharing, as always! Have a lovely weekend!

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 

      4 months ago from USA

      Mary, you are eyes to the world and we get to see such beautiful creations. The Joan Miro sculpture is especially fun. I appreciate your articles, photos and insight so much. You inspire us to get involved with the world we live in and be a blessing to others.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      4 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      That's how I feel Dora when I see art in all its form. It awakens the creative in me.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      4 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Lucky you. I want to be back there, too. Ths subway works well so you can easily go and visit many of these.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      4 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Yes, Gaudi is really a genius and the city is dotted with his works. It is amazing how far ahead he is of his time.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      4 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Looks like. I love visiting Gaudi's works and especially becuase he based his work on Nature itself.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 months ago from The Caribbean

      I can understand your view that Barcelona itself is a museum. Your life has to be enriched, your mind expanded by firsthand experience of these beautiful cultural sites. Thanks for sharing.

    • kalinin1158 profile image

      Lana Adler 

      4 months ago from California

      Mary, thanks so much for this guide! I'm going to Spain in September and this is so helpful. Can't wait to visit some of those!

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      4 months ago from Dubai

      I enjoyed reading about the

      Museums in Barcelona. My favorite is Casa Mila, I love the way the entrance has been designed.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      4 months ago from london

      Yes Mary,

      I agree that the City itself is full of architecture. I liked the impressive and modern approach of the European Museum of Modern Art.

      Still, I have been there and was most impressed by Gaudi's works. So is the video, it seems. A genuis, he was! Way ahead of his time.

      Quite an impressive selection here. Awesome! You and Peggy must be twin souls. Thank you so much!

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      4 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      It was fun as I know you had fun in your last travel. We love museums and art so we spend time in these.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      4 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Hi Peggy. We only planned to be there 5 days and go off driving to other places which we did but came back and settled down after finding our days would be filled with so many places to explore. I should have put all of the above. Thanky ou again.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      5 months ago from USA

      Mary, you have such an adventurous life with all your travels. I enjoyed this so much and had such a tough time voting. I’d love to spend enough time in Barcelona to visit these museums.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      5 months ago from Houston, Texas

      I would love to spend time in all of these places. If your poll had included all of the above that is the one I would have voted. Of the places you featured we only got to see Casa Mila...but only from the outside. I would have loved to see that rooftop! Thanks for including that video.

      We did get to spend some time in the Joan Miro Foundation one day while we took a break from the men's Olympic diving.

      We were fascinated with the work of Gaudi. His Sagrada Familia is amazing and still not finished although it has been worked upon for so long a time. Guell Park is also fascinating. You are fortunate to have been able to spend so much time in Barcelona!

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      5 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks Eric. Interested to poke those memories.

    • aesta1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Norton 

      5 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Louise, we have been to Spain several times before we visited Barcelona and we ended up there because we were looking for a place where there is a direct flight from Croatia after spending a month there. We thought of staying for 5 days but we saw how many things we could enjoy there so we went back and stayed the whole winter.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      5 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Too many memories. Thank you. I will come back

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 

      5 months ago from Norfolk, England

      I've visited Spain a few times, but have never been to Barcelona. I would love to though, it's such a lovely city.

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