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Things to do in Spain during your leisure time. Museums in Barcelona


Picasso Museum

Opening time: Tue-Sat/ Bank holidays:10-20/ Sun:10-15 H
see map

The Barcelona Picasso Museum clearly confirms the ties that unite Pablo Picasso with the city of Barcelona. He did not only finish a solid academic training here, but the artistic effervescence that he experienced in the city was the starting point that opened up for him the path to modernity.

The museum has the most important and exhaustive collections of the works of Pablo Picasso's youth and education, in particular the ones he did between 1895 and 1904, the years in which the young artist lived in our city.

The solid conventional academic training that the young Picasso received between 1891 and 1897 -under his father's tutelage- in the fine arts schools in La Coruña, Barcelona and Madrid, is well-represented by a range of work that shows the artist's mastery of his craft, as also is his foray into official competitions, which led to key work during the time of his training, such as First Communion (Barcelona, 1896) and Science and Charity (Barcelona, 1897). His links to Catalan Modernisme and, in particular, to the artists and intellectuals that used to meet at the mythical tavern, Els Quatre Gats, are reflected in a series of works, chiefly in the portraits that he made of many regular customers.

This proximity to the Catalan avant-garde gave rise to his first trips to Paris, which led to work of a marked Post-Impressionist character and to a strident use of colour, such as in Nana and Margot (Paris, 1901). This polychrome period was followed by his blue period (1901-1904), dominated by the use of only blue tonalities, which are displayed in works as important as The Madman, or The Abandoned, and by his rose period (1905), which is illustrated in The Portrait of Señora Canals.

Also noteworthy is the very important collection of work done in 1917, the year of his collaboration with Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, and the magnificent paintings of 1957, made up by the paintings of Las Meninas, which was a splendid analytical exercise, using Velázquez' work as a starting point. The museum also possesses a very wide representation of engravings and lithographs that the artist executed prolifically, along with a set of forty-two pieces of ceramics bequeathed by Jacqueline Picasso in 1982.

The Picasso Museum occupies five medieval palaces: Aguilar, Baró de Castellet, Meca, Casa Mauri, and Palau Finestres, which have been restored various times throughout the centuries. The restoration carried out in the eighteenth century by the Baron of Castellet in the palace that bears his name stands out. This was done in one of the halls on the main floor. Medieval elements still remain in the Aguilar and Finestres palaces, such as the painted beams in one of the rooms on the ground floor.


Foundation Joan Miro

Opening time: Tue/Wed/Fri/Sat:10-19/ Thu:10-21.30/ Sun/Bank holidays:10-14.30 H

The Foundation was set up on the initiative of Joan Miró thanks to the donations he made to his home town. Opened to the public in 1975, Miró conceived it as a living centre where students and the general public could become familiar with his work as well as with contemporary art trends.

The permanent exhibition of a large part of the collection of Miró's work belonging to the Foundation provides a tour of the artist's creative production, from the earliest drawings, produced in 1901, to the large-format paintings of his last period. The work exhibited also speaks for the wealth and variety of Miró's universe, which includes a wide range of techniques such as painting, drawing, the graphic work, sculpture and tapestry. The Foundation is also home to Alexander Calder's "Mercury Fountain" -exhibited at the 1937 Paris Exhibition alongside Picasso's "Gernika" and Joan Miró's "Catalan Reaper"- and a collection of work by contemporary artists donated in homage to Joan Miró.

The Joan Miró Foundation, as a Centre for the Study of Contemporary Art, organises temporary exhibitions with the object of introducing the public to the leading figures and subject matter of twentieth-century art. It also provides exhibition space for work by young artists and holds regular concerts of contemporary music, video projections, seminars, etc. The Foundation's aim is to relate avant-garde art to the latest creative work, and thereby link it to experience. Josep Lluís Sert, a great friend of Miró, designed the building in an obviously Mediterranean style. He conceived it as a light and airy architectural structure, with its terraces overlooking the city, its interior patios and its combination of forms contributing to a harmonious relationship between architecture and the landscape.

Royal Monastery of Santa Maria de Pedralbes
Tue-Sun/Bank holidays:10-14 H

The Royal Monastery of Santa Maria de Pedralbes is a historical and artistic monument of the first magnitude. It was founded in 1326 by King James II the Just and Queen Elisenda of Montcada, his fourth and last wife. Following the death of the King in 1327, the Queen fitted out part of the living quarters already completed in the cloistral complex, to which she added the rest of the rooms which eventually made up the Palace, where she lived for the last thirty-seven years of her life.

Pedralbes is a typical example of the Gothic structure and style of a medieval monastery of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The chapel, the cloister -one of the most spacious and harmonious in the world-, Saint Michael's cell, with Ferrer Bassa's (1936) magnificent murals, the queen's grave, the day cells -where the monks enjoyed the occasional moment of isolation-, are a must for any visitor. The Chapter Hall contains the most significant works of art, including paintings, ceramics and furniture. Rooms such as the infirmary, the kitchen, the refectory, the procures, etc. and the furniture on show there, all preserved as though the monks who used them still lived there, keep alive the atmosphere of an enclosed monastery.

Declared a national historical and artistic monument in 1991, part of the Monastery is still enclosed. The collections exhibited in the Museum today are the patrimony of the order of Saint Clare. The nuns' former dormitory and the Great Hall of Queen Elisenda's Palace, which have recovered their splendour in the latest refurbishing, have since 1993 housed a painstaking selection of medieval, Renaissance and baroque art from the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection.


Museum of Modern Art

Tue-Sat:10-19/Sun/Bank holidays:10-14.30 H

The collections of the Museum of Modern Art follow on from those of the Museum of Catalan Art to complete a period spanning the eleventh to twentieth centuries. The collections preserved today at the Palau de la Ciutadella summarize and illustrate the path followed by Catalan art during the nineteenth century and the first thirty years of the twentieth century. The oldest works in this centre's collections correspond to the Neoclassical style, represented by significant artists in this movement in Catalonia, such as the painter Josep Flaugier, who set up the first public museum of painting in Barcelona, and the sculptor Damia Campeny. Of the Romantics, visitors can contemplate compositions by Claudio Lorenzale, Pelegri Clave and Joaquin Espalter and landscapes by Lluis Rigalt. Amongst the artists of the last century, the figure that most stands out is Maria Fortuny, the leading Catalan artist of the nineteenth century, who painted a large number of Moorish themes, although it was the style known as precisosisme that brought him international recognition. The works of Ramon Marti i Alsina, Antoni Caba, Simo Gomez and Benet Mercade are representative of the realist movement, which had an important following in Catalonia. In this respect, we can also single out the landscapes by Joaquim Vayreda, the maximum exponent of the Olot school.

The Museum offers the visitor a global, comprehensive view of Catalan Modernism which perfectly illustrates the significance of this extensive movement which renewed the city of Barcelona. There are paintings by the first generation of Modernists, led by Santiago Rusiñol and Ramon Casas. Joaquim Mir, Isidre Nonell and Francesc Gimeno are powerful painters belonging to the second Modernist generation. The most important of the movement's sculptors include Miquel Blay, Eusebi Arnau, Enric Clarasso and Josep Llimona. The decorative arts, which played a central role in Modernism, are also represented, with furniture by Joan Busquets, Gaspar Homar and Antoni Gaudi. Noucentisme, a broad cultural movement that favoured a return to Classicism, is present in the sculptures of Josep Clara, Enric Casanovas and Manolo Hugue, and in the paintings of Joaquim Sunyer, Xavier Nogues and Joaquim Torres-Garcia.

An outstanding painting from Salavdor Dalí's early period completes the collections from this period, and opens the way to the magnificent series of avant-garde sculpture by Pau Gargallo and Juli Gonzalez, which complete the permanent exhibition.

More information on Barcelona, Spain:
Hotels, hostels and apartments in Barcelona Museums in Barcelona
Hands-on cooking class in Barcelona Olympic Barcelona
Tapas, sightseeing and cooking day in Barcelona The Modernism Route
Spanish language school La Rambla
Flats, apartments for sale Paseo de Gracia & Rambla Catalunya
Flats for long term rental Fountains of Montjuic (and webcam)
  History of Barcelona
Photos of Barcelona Public Holidays in Barcelona
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