National Museum of Catalan Art
October to April: Fri-Sat 10:00-18:00; Fri and Holidays 10:00-15:00. May to October: Fri-Sat 10:00-20:00; Fri and Holidays 10:00-15:00. January 1, May 1 and December 25 – the museum is closed.
Adult ticket – 12 euros. Admission to the terrace – 2 € For children under 16 years and persons over 65 years – free of charge. Free admission on the first Sunday of each month, Saturdays from 15:00; May 18; September 11.
The National Museum of Art of Catalonia (MNAC) was founded in 1990 in Barcelona through the merger of the Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Art of Catalonia. The main part of the museum collections of this one of the biggest museums of Barcelona and its directorate is located in the National Palace at the foot of the Montjuïc Mountain.
It was inaugurated in 1929 for the Universal Exposition in Barcelona and is located at the end of the Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina, which runs from Plaza España. The Museu de Arte de Catalunya also includes three other institutions located in Vilanova y la Geltru, Sijes Olote and Sijes.
In the middle of the square in front of the fountain stand four Ionic columns, symbolizing the four stripes of the Catalan flag. The columns were built for the 1929 World’s Fair, but the Spanish government tore them down so as not to support the Catalans’ separatist aspirations for independence.
Only in 2010 this national symbol of Catalonia was reconstructed in its former place. There are mirror inserts between the columns, reflecting the square and giving this space even more depth.
In front of the palace, built in the classical style of the Spanish Renaissance, there is a huge fountain, which is called a magic fountain, and in the evenings there are light and music shows.
Thanks to its advantageous location, the National Museum has the best view of Barcelona. Visitors can relax after seeing the exhibits and taking in the beautiful panorama of the city on the terraces in front of the museum, or on the roof of the museum.
Things to see
The Museu Nacional d’Arte Nacional de Catalunya is famous for its unique and the largest collection of Romanesque art in the world, dating back to before the partition of the Christian Church in 1054. Among the exhibits in this collection are paintings of Catalan churches from the 10th to the 13th centuries.
In addition, there are valuable collections of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque art, which offer visitors a fascinating panorama of medieval art.
The museum’s Gothic collection features examples of Catalan easel paintings and sculptures by Bernat Martorel, Jaime Huguet and Luis Dalmau.
Works by El Greco and Velázquez adorn the Baroque and Renaissance collection. The museum also displays outstanding examples of early Dutch painting and Italian Quattrocento.
Since 2004, the National Museum has had the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, presenting works by Catalan artists from the early nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. A few years later, a private collection including works by Titian, Rubens and Fra Angelico was added to the museum’s collection.
Barcelona is rightly considered the capital of modernism. In the Museum of National Art of Catalonia you can see works by Ramón Casas, Santiago Rusiñol, Isidre Nonel, Antonio Gaudí, Pablo Picasso and Josep Jujol. The halls of contemporary art feature works by Mariano Fortuni, Pablo Gargallo, Julio Gonzalez and Antoni Tapies.
The museum also features posters by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Theophile-Alexander Steinlen, and a variety of drawings, photographs and prints.
The extensive numismatic collection of the museum contains coins, medals and paper money in circulation in Catalonia and the neighboring territories from the 6th century B.C. up to the present.
General ticket – €12 (valid for two days from the date of purchase)
Terrace – rooftop viewpoint – 2 €
- For children up to 16 years old;
- For visitors over 65 years old;
- For teachers whose professional activities are directly related to the museum’s activities;
- For students (upon prior notice of admission);
- For members of the ICOM organization;
- For licensed tourist guides;
- Saturdays from 3 p.m.; the first Sunday of each month; May 18; September 11.
By the way, every month on the first Sunday you can visit other museums in Barcelona for free, such as the Picasso Museum, the Frederic Mares Museum, the Barcelona History Museum and the CosmoCaixa Science Museum.
- Students 30% off;
- Families with two adults and one child – 30%;
- Families with a large family card – 30%;
- For groups of adults (10-25) – 30%;
- Group of schoolchildren accompanied by one adult – 30%;
- Bus Turístic or Barcelona City Tour ticket holders – 20%.
An annual ticket to the main exhibition and temporary exhibitions costs €18. Also on the museum’s official website you can buy combined tickets that give the right to visit several cultural sites.
Museum opening hours
In the winter season, from October to April:
- Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m;
- Sundays and public holidays – 10:00-15:00.
During the summer season, May through October:
- Tuesday through Saturday – 10 a.m. to 8 p.m;
- Sundays and public holidays – 10:00-15:00.
The museum is closed on Mondays, except for public holidays. On public holidays, which fall on a Monday, the museum is open. However, each year the museum is closed on January 1, May 1, and December 25.
The box office closes a half hour before the museum closes. Visitors should leave the premises 15 minutes before the museum closes.
Terrace opening hours
During the summer weekend the terrace in front of the museum is open until midnight.
From November to February the terrace is open Sunday to Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Friday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. From May to September the terrace is open from Monday to Wednesday from 10:00 to 21:00 and from Thursday to Sunday from 10:00 to 24:00.
October to April:
- Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m;
- Sundays and public holidays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
May through September:
- Tuesday through Saturday – 10 a.m. to 8 p.m;
- Sundays and public holidays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
On Mondays, the rooftop terrace is closed, except on public holidays. Every year the roof terrace is closed January 1, May 1 and December 25.
Rules of admission
Visitors should leave bags, backpacks, umbrellas and other things larger than 35×35×25 cm in the storage room.
In the Museum of National Art of Catalonia it is allowed to take photos of exhibits, but this permission does not apply to temporary exhibitions. Photos can only be taken without flash, not using a tripod or selfie stand.
A special permit is required to make professional videos.
Every first Sunday of the month the museum offers free guided tours in Catalan and Spanish.
There is a restaurant, a library, and Wi-Fi is available on the museum grounds.
The audio guide is available in 8 languages, including Russian, and will help you navigate through the museum’s vast collection. The price for the audio guide is 4€, but for a Comprehensive ticket, which includes the audio guide, you can save up to 14€.
How to get there
Barcelona’s transportation system is well-developed and tourists can choose a convenient mode of transport to get between the different attractions of Barcelona.
The National Museum of Catalan Art can be reached by metro from the Plaça Espanya stop, the L1 red line and the L3 green line.
Alternatively you can get there by bus. The closest bus is bus number 55 (stop “Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya-Museu Etnològic”). Tourists can also take buses number 125, 150 (stop “Piscines Picornell-Museu Nacional”), number 13 (stop “Av. Francesc Ferrer i Guardia-Poble Espanyol”), number L72 (stop “Pl. Espanya-Av. Paral.lel”). Alternatively, take buses nos. 13, 46, 52, 65, 79, 91, 109, 115, 165, D20, H12, N2, N14 and V5 at the Pl. Espanya”.
The Bus Turístic and Barcelona City Tour buses stop near the museum.
The National Museum of Catalan Art is accessible by cable car up Montjuïc, integrated with the metro stations of Paral.lel, purple L2 and green L3.
Visitors can get to the museum on the suburban railroad of the FGC: trains L8, R5, R6, R50, R60, S4, S8, S33, get off at the station “Espanya”.
Tourists strolling through Barcelona on foot can visit the National Museum of Catalan Art from different angles. In Plaça Espanya, near Avinguda Maria Cristina, there is an escalator that will take you up to the museum. On Carrer Lleida, near the Mercat de les Flors and the Greek Theatre, there are steps leading up to the museum. Another escalator is located near the Anella Olímpica sports complex.
For visitors who prefer to go to the National Museum by car, there is a free parking lot near the building with designated spaces for people with disabilities.
Cycling enthusiasts can find the Bicing bicycle rental stations on Via França Xica and Plaza España.
Tourists who want to get to the museum in comfort by cab can use mobile applications myTaxi, Kiwitaxi, Fast-Taxi, Hailo, JoinUp, Kuik Taxi, Ntaxi, Taxi Barcelona.
Treasures of the National Museum of Art of Catalonia
The attention of everyone driving along Gran Via in Barcelona is attracted by a majestic building on a hill overlooking the cascade of fountains and the avenue that begins between two 47-meter high towers in Venetian style. This is Palau Nacional, home to the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. Looking at the building, it is difficult to believe that the monumental palace has never been the residence of kings, and its history is relatively short, less than 100 years.
How the palace was built
The Palau Nacional was designed by architect Josep Puig y Cadafalca and built by engineer Carles Buigas in 1929 in time for the World’s Fair. It was in front of the palace that the opening of the exhibition by the king took place. During the event itself, the building served as the Pavilion of Electricity. Since 1934 the palace became the Museum of Art of Catalonia and since 1990, after the merger of the Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Art of Catalonia under the “Law of Museums”, it became the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (National Museum of Art of Catalonia). The building originally looked a little different. Puig y Cadafalch designed it in a modernist style, but just a few years later it was rebuilt under the direction of Gue Aulenti in a neo-Baroque style. The palace was meticulously restored for the 1992 Olympic Games, at which time it acquired its familiar appearance. And in 2004 all its sections and departments with the main collections of cultural treasures were opened.
Do not think that it is enough to see the palace only from the outside, it would be a big mistake. Even if you are not at all interested in history, culture and art, the building itself is worth a walk through its halls. The Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya is stunningly large. The slender neoclassical forms are architectural perfection. A huge ceremonial hall where up to 20,000 people can be seated during special events in the life of the city; two floors of spacious rooms and corridors with high ceilings. No matter how many visitors are in the palace, you won’t get the feeling of a crowd.
Original architecture, unusually cozy rooms, quality finishes, cool air and pleasant lighting are all about the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, revealing to us the beautiful Catalonia. It’s easy to find the objects you want here: the presentation of the exhibits is exceptionally professional. Such seemingly insignificant things as the soft carpeting or the comfortable temperature make the acquaintance with art a real pleasure. This museum is the perfect place to wait out the midday heat with good for the mind and joy for the heart. If you want to explore the exhibitions in depth, be prepared to return again and again, as the Palace Museum has 31,000 square metres of exhibition space and more than 230,000 items on display!
There are practically no queues at the box office and no pandemonium in front of the paintings. The free multilingual museum plan at the entrance will help not to get lost and do not miss anything, and benches and comfortable leather sofas will take care of the tired of the experience visitors. Listening to the audio guide and looking at the paintings while sitting is an invaluable opportunity. Those who want to dive deeper into exploring the museum can use mobile apps or sign up for a guided tour with a specialist who will tell you everything you want to know and answer any questions about the museum’s collection.
It is also nice that in the museum you can freely take photos and selfies (of course, better without a flash), the building has free Wi-Fi, and to the right of the entrance is the logo of the museum, which is wonderful as a background for a photo in Instagram. A small number of staff is very friendly and always ready to help the visitor. You can refresh yourself right inside the museum in a cozy cafe, and on the way out – buy small gifts, there is a store with thematic souvenirs.
Inexhaustible cultural wealth
Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya is a treasure trove of cultural treasures of Catalonia, and not only. Many of the museum’s exhibits are absolutely unique. For example, a collection of Romanesque paintings, the like of which is not found anywhere else in the world, or pieces of furniture by Antoni Gaudi and Josep Jujol. Most of the most famous art movements such as neoclassicism, romanticism, realism, modernism and avant-gardism are represented in the museum, as well as all its types and genres: painting, sculpture, applied art, photography, graphics, engraving, coinage, posters and numismatics (medals, coins and banknotes). Connoisseurs will be attracted by the rich library of art history.
There are four main blocks of rooms on two floors, united by a common hall. Thus, the permanent exhibition is divided into four large sections.
- The Romanesque section, which includes paintings by Catalan artists of the 11th-13th centuries and medieval frescoes, mainly collected in churches and chapels in remote areas of the Pyrenees. The section was opened in 1995 and holds the largest number of exhibits. The section, opened in 1997, presents the works of Italian and Catalan masters of the XIII-XV centuries. Rare surviving works by medieval Catalan artists Bernat Martorel, Jaime Uge and Luis Dalmau and Catalan easel paintings will delight fans of Gothic art.
- The Renaissance and Baroque section opened in 2000 and, apart from works by Catalan and Italian masters, also contains works by Flemish authors from the 16th and 18th centuries. Here you can see examples not only of Catalan art, but also world-famous masterpieces of the Renaissance: works by Rubens, Velázquez, El Greco, Zurbarán, Goya, Cranach, Tintoretto and Canaletto. Works from the Francesco Cambo and Thyssen-Bornemisza collections form part of the composition.
- The contemporary art section was also inaugurated in 2000. It presents Catalan art from the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century. Works by Ramón Casas, Santiago Russiñol, Isidre Nonell, Pau Gargalo and, of course, Antoni Gaudí.
There are also specialized departments in the museum, such as the department of Catalan numismatics, medals and coinage with coins and paper money from the sixth century to the present. In 1996 the department of photography was opened and included the collections of masters of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In the drawings and prints department one can see works created from the end of the 17th century to the time of the avant-gardists. There is also an art history library.
Catalan art in the museum is represented in all its diversity, from ancient altars and bas-reliefs and wooden sculptures to modernist objects. Walking around the halls of the museum, you can feel and even see with your own eyes the passage of time: a thousand years of art in one building!
For those who can’t get enough of just looking, the museum has prepared a variety of events, dynamic tours for children, workshops, and master classes. In addition to permanent exhibitions, the museum is also able to attract visitors with temporary exhibitions dedicated to the work of contemporary artists or individual artistic trends. Sometimes their themes are quite unusual, such as an exhibition of works by Japanese artists of the 19th century. Finding temporary exhibition rooms is easy: they are located in the basement on either side of the museum entrance. Look closer to the exit on either side of the stairs leading downstairs.
Learn more about a particular exhibit and read news about the museum’s work at: http://www.museunacional.cat/en.
Opening Hours and Ticket Prices
In summer, the museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 to 8 p.m., and Sunday and holidays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. On national holidays, December 25, January 1 and May 1, the museum is closed. Remember, the museum is closed on Mondays, but online ticket sales continue: convenient and profitable, as you get a discount when you buy an e-ticket. Students, families of three or more people (30%), and Barcelona Card and Bus Turistic and Barcelona City Tour ticket holders (20%) are all eligible for the discount. Children under 16 and people over 65 years old are free to enter the museum. The price of a standard ticket is 12 euros. It’s interesting that it’s valid for 2 days, so there’s enough time to see everything. The main thing – please note that the ticket office hours stop working half an hour beforehand and the halls are closed 15 minutes before the end of the museum.
How to find the museum and what to see nearby
The Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya is located near the main transportation hub of Barcelona, Spain Square. For both visitors and residents of the Catalan capital, Plaça Espanya is one of the most important points on the city map. It has stops for public transportation – buses (Nos. 13, 37, 150 and 55), the Metro (L1 – red line, L3 – green), commuter trains, as well as the Aerobus, which runs between Plaça Espanya and the airport, and tourist buses. Plaza España, like the Gothic Quarter or the area around Plaça Catalunya, is a hub of attractions not to be missed while in Barcelona. The Arena shopping center, a renovated bullring, the leisure and cultural center of El Poble Espanyol, the Montjuïc hill with its medieval castle, the Olympic Stadium, the Joan Miró Foundation, beautiful gardens and viewpoints with spectacular views can all be reached within walking distance. To get to the top of the mountain you can take city buses number 55, 150, the underground cable car from the metro station Parallel, or in a cable car that connects Montjuïc directly to the old port.
From the platform in front of the palace there are spectacular views of the Magic Fountain, Avenida Maria Cristina and Plaza España, and from the terraces of the palace (entrance €2) you can see the whole city at 360°. For those who find it difficult to climb the dozens of stairs on the way up, there is a series of escalators that take you above the city in a few minutes. On the platform in front of the museum you can relax sitting on the steps and look at the city through the telescopes installed there or just feed the frequent guests of this place – seagulls.
In front of the palace, the Magic Fountain was built for the World Expo, which is now one of the symbols of Barcelona. Stunning light and music performances gather many spectators in the evenings on certain days of the week, according to the schedule, throughout the year. The jets beat dozens of meters upwards, and nine spotlights, according to the number of letters in the word “Barcelona”, installed in the palace, color them in different colors. By the way, several times a year anyone can see the hidden underground “life” of the fountain during the City Open House. On such days you can visit the museum for free.
- Connoisseurs of the avant-garde, fans of the genius of Salvador Dali have the happy opportunity to visit the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya during the days from July 6 to October 14, 2018, when the exhibition “Gala Dali” is in force. The event is supported by the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, the Gala – Salvador Dalí Foundation and the Dalí Museums. The exhibition includes 315 paintings, sketches, photographs, documents and personal items that will allow visitors to trace the evolution of Gala’s image and public attitudes toward her. Of particular interest are the manuscripts of the autobiographical project, as well as postcards, books, clothes and toiletries of the heroine of the exhibition.
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Tags: spain, barcelona, catalonia, painting, exhibition, exhibit, monjuïc, antonio gaudi, national museum of art catalonia, museu nacional d’art de catalunya, catalan art