Barcelona Art Guide: Top-8 museums & exhibition spaces

Before we start, we should take as granted that you have already made plans to visit Gaudi’s still-in-construction masterpiece, the temple of the Sagrada Familia, which is not a museum in the strict sense, but it is a space dominated by art in every single surface. So, no matter how much of an art-lover you are, you just cannot be in museums the whole day! You should save time to walk up and down (on repeat) the Ramblas, explore the elegant Passeig de Gràcia, see the inside of the Cathedral and Santa Maria del Mar, visit Guell Park and have excellent fish meals in the Barceloneta, delicious tapas at the Gothic Quarter and drinks, well, practically everywhere.
So, here are our suggestions for the 8 museums you have to know about! Pick the ones you are most interested in (or all of them if you are us) and start your art-journey in the enchanting capital of Catalonia!
Sagrada Familia, Barcelona - Tourism Media © 2016 Expedia, Inc
Everything about this museum is grand and majestic: the building, a masterpiece of Neo-Renaissance monumental architecture, the setting, standing on a small hill, dominating the quarter’s skyline, the view from the courtyard, where you can see the Magic Fountains and have a vista of all Barcelona and, last, but now least, the astonishing collection! MNAC is the ark of Romanesque art, an art movement flourished in Catalonia in the 11th to 13th centuries, as it houses the biggest and oldest collection of Romanesque murals and panels in Europe. Gothic art, Renaissance and Baroque masterpieces as well as modern art complete the impressive collection! If you have time for only one museum, this is it! General admission: €12, valid for two days. 

Picasso Museum
cityartnow-picasso-bcn-guide1.jpgMuseu Picasso of Barcelona, Las Meninas. Photo: Juan Ávila © Museu Picasso of Barcelona
The museum houses the artistic production of Pablo Picasso from his early, training years while examining various themes of the master’s life and work: Picasso’s origins in figurative painting, his early influences, his first abstracts, his relationship with the city of Barcelona and his impressive 58-piece fascination with Velasquez’s Las Meninas. The collection spreads in five adjoined medieval mansions built in Catalan Gothic style, just off the city’s Gothic quarter. There is always an interesting exhibition programmed so, whenever in the city, check for what’s on in this gem of a museum! Highlights: Science and charity, 1897, is a magnificent evidence of the mastery of young Picasso (only 15 at the time) in realistic painting. Open every day except Mondays - Admission 11 euros / includes temporary exhibitions.


Located in the heart of the lively Raval district, the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art presents artworks from the mid-20th century up to the present; paintings, drawings, installations and video art for every contemporary-art-lover ranging from Joan Miró, Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter to Martin Kippenburger and the rising stars of today’s art-scene. Admission: 10 €. Combine MACBA with a visit at the CCCB, a very active exhibition and arts centre which focuses on contemporary art and media concerning urban culture. Admission from 6 to 8€.

Joan Miró Foundation
© Fundació Joan Miró 2016

The museum, created  by Miró himself, is a celebration of the artist’s art and spirit, located on top of Montjuïc Hill, overlooking the whole city. The abundance of natural light and the relaxed and clear architecture of the building (by Josep Lluís Sert) create the perfect setting for Miró’s colourful art. Espai 13 is another exhibition space dedicated to the promotion of art from young artists. General admission: €12.

© CaixaForum

An exhibition space owned by La Caixa Bank, it is often overlooked as it has no permanent collection but the impressive exhibition program of the recent years makes the Forum a venue you should keep your eyes on! Housed in a re-innovated factory designed by Josep Puig i Cadafalch, a prominent architect of Modernism, the museum is situated very close to MNAC. General admission: €4.

Gaudi Exhibition Center

The center occupies the same building as the Diocesan Museum and is located next to the city’s cathedral (a church you should definitely visit when in Barcelona). It is dedicated to the genius of Antoni Gaudi; through audiovisual aid, models, documents, sketches and personal objects, the museum gives us a glimpse of the iconic architect, whose work turned Barcelona into an open architectural park. Admission: 15,00€. Admission with virtual reality experience: 17,00€.

La Pedrera (Casa Milà)
Casa Mila, Barcelona - Tourism Media © 2016 Expedia, Inc

Visiting Gaudi exhibition center (see previous entry) will give you an idea of Gaudi’s architectural philosophy but nothing compares with experiencing the real thing: La Pedrera! Book a ticket ahead (queues are endless in high-season), start from the cool central atrium in the basement and walk your way up to the exhibition halls, right before you reach the rooftop which is the highlight of the visit. The general admission costs a pretty expensive 20,50€  so try to make the most of it!

Antoni Tàpies Foundation
Montaner i Simon building, with the work Núvol i cadira by Tàpies on the top © Creative Commons

Antoni Tàpies (1923-2012), probably the best-known Catalan artist of the last 70 years, had a long and very productive career, ranging from his early connection with the Surrealists, to his own style known as pintura matèrica, with objects incorporated into the paintings and up to the 70s and 80s abstraction. The Foundation he created has a rotating program of presenting the collection of his works as well as hosting exhibitions by artists linked to Tàpies or his work. The museum uses an impressive 1880-building, designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner which hosts the Núvol i cadira sculpture by Tàpies on top of it. General entrance: 7.50 €

Keep in mind that using Articket, at a price of €30, you can enter MNAC, Joan Miró Foundation, Picasso Museum, CCCB, Antoni Tàpies Foundation and MACBA.
The Articket is valid for 12 months and includes admission to temporary exhibitions and skip-the-line privileges!


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