Barcelona is undeniably one of the best cities in the world for art and culture. From Gaudí using buildings as his canvas, to the incredible sculptures and paintings of Picasso, Miró and Tàpies, the city is home to some of the most renowned masterpieces.
It is apparent that Catalonia’s capital lives and breathes art and history, and whether you’re interested in contemporary art, modernism, design or archaeology, you’ll find it in one of Barcelona’s museums or cultural centres.
If you’re a fan of Picasso, this is the place for you.There are almost 4,000 works in the permanent collection of this museum, offering a great opportunity to see Picasso’s work, and how it changed, throughout his life. Believe it or not, the earliest work in Museu Picasso was from when the artist was nine years old.
The life’s work of painter, sculptor and ceramicist Joan Miró can be found in this great museum. Located in Montjuïc, the permanent collection covers Miró’s work from 1914 to 1978. If you're not familiar with Miró’s art, this fantastic quote of his sums it up nicely: "I try to apply colors like words that shape poems, like notes that shape music."
Catalunya’s national art gallery displays Catalonia’s finest art in beautiful surroundings. (It’s worth going even just for the stunning view!) Situated in Montjuïc and built for the 1929 Exposition, the building holds 1,000 years of Catalan art and is particularly known for its Romanesque paintings. Great for art buffs.
Also in Montjuïc is CaixaForum, an art gallery and cultural centre that was once a textile factory. The art collection focuses mainly on the period from the 1980s to the present. It’s a must for art lovers. There are also engaging activities for children and the restaurant is highly-rated, if you find yourself getting peckish.
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Just beyond the Palau del Lloctinent (Palace of the Lieutenant) is the Museu Frederic Marès, which has a beautiful courtyard with an attractive café in the summer months. Marès, a 20th-century sculptor of civic statues, was a compulsive collector who bequeathed to Barcelona an unusually idiosyncratic collection of art consisting of work from the ancient world up through the 19th century. You can really get lost in the ‘museum within a museum’ – set aside a bit of time to explore.
El Born Centre de Cultura i Memoria, also known as Born CCM, was converted from a fruit and vegetable market into one of the best cultural centres in Barcelona. It features the archaeological ruins of a medieval city, making it great for history buffs. It also hosts concerts and exhibitions – a multi-faceted space for everyone!
This museum and cultural centre is dedicated to the life and work of painter, art theorist and sculptor Antoni Tàpies. In addition to Tàpies’ own work, it holds fantastic temporary exhibitions and a library. Whether or not you are familiar with his work, it’s certainly worth a visit. Don’t miss the sculptures on the grounds outside, either.
Just a 3-min walk away from Fundació Joan Miró is the Catalan Museum of Archaeology. The artifacts are thoughtfully curated and the museum provides a great history of Iberia. While the museum is quite small, you can certainly lose a few hours here.
The Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art has some incredible abstract works and great temporary exhibitions. It is an absolute must for anyone interested in contemporary art. Give yourself some time to explore – there are three floors, each one worth a peek. There’s also a great gift shop for anyone needing souvenirs for artsy friends and family.
Less than a minute away from MACBA is Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB). This exciting, multidisciplinary art centre organises exhibitions, concerts and festivals, as well as lectures and debates, and it’s certainly worth a visit for anyone curious about, well, almost anything. Check our what’s on the agenda during your stay.