Here at Gusto Guides, we are culture lovers and always on the lookout for things to do in Barcelona, our adopted home town. A few weeks ago, we posted our picks of Madrid‘s best museums and today we turn our attentions to Barcelona and its eclectic collection of art galleries and cultural institutes.
1. Museo Picasso – The Man of modern art spent his adolescence in Barcelona, a period that would come to shape the work and philosophy of one of the 20th century’s most celebrated artists. From a lovingly restored mediaeval building in the heart of the atmospheric Born neighbourhood, the Museo Picasso is home to a carefully curated collection of the painter’s first works including selected highlights of his blue period and the preparatory sketches for his famous tribute to Vasquez’s Las Meninas. The Museum owes its existence at least in part to Jaume Sabartés, the painter’s Barcelona-born personal secretary. We recommend visiting first thing in the morning (and buying your tickets in advance) as this is one of Barcelona’s biggest draws in terms of visitor numbers, with over a million art lovers visiting every year.
Open: Monday to Sunday 0900-1700h, Thursdays until 2130h. Admission: temporary exhibitions + permanent collection €14, permanent collection only €11, temporary exhibitions only €6.50. Reduced price for over 65s, young people aged 18 to 25, unemployed and Barcelona library members. Free for under 18s, university students and members of the Catalunya museum association. Free first Sunday of each month and from 3pm all other Sundays. Website: www.museupicasso.bcn.cat
2. Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Barcelona (MACBA) – Set in a clinically modern building (reminiscent of Le Corbusier) in a square beloved of skateboarders and students alike, MACBA was at the heart of one of the biggest transformations seen by Barcelona to date: the cleaning up of el Raval. In just a few decades, the area has gone from an underworld heartland to a neighbourhood known for its galleries, cool bars and bookshops. Yes,it’s still a little rough around the edges in parts (keep an eye on your bags and consider avoiding the area around La Placa Salvador Segui), but Raval is a great place to catch some of the best art in town. MACBA is among the most innovative museums in Barcelona, especially given its temporary exhibitions and events programme.
Open: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 1000 to 2000h, Saturdays 1000 to 2030h, Sundays 1000 to 1500h. Admission: 10€ for 1 month’s unlimited entry, €8 under 14s, over 65s, unemployed, teachers and students of geography, history and art. Free entry on World Museum Day (18 May) and local fiesta La Mercé (24 September). Web: www.macba.cat
3. Centro de Cultura Contemporánea de Barcelona (CCCB): Just next door to the MACBA, the CCCB’s chief focus is on temporary exhibitions, often with an irreverant edge that make it more appealing than its older, more uptight neighbour. Recent highlights include exhibitions by Martin Parr and Branguli, and we would advise keeping a close eye on their programme for future happenings. The building also has a lovely outdoor patio combining the original building with a much more modern structure dating from 1993.
4. Museo Nacional de Arte de Catalunya (MNAC): Despite appearances, this stunning palace is a spring chicken, dating back only as far as the 20th century. Situated at the foot of Montjuic, the mountain that dominates Barcelona’s skyline, the MNAC is home to a fantastic collection of Roman and Gothic art along with works by later masters including Velázquez and Titian. One particular highlight is the collection of local modernist heroes including Mir, Casas, Rusiñol and Anglada Camarasa, as well as their contemporaries Zuloaga and Sorolla. From the MNAC, you can easily access the rest of Montjuic’s museums including the Catalan Archaeology Museum and the Fundacion Mirò.
Open: October to April, Tuesday to Saturday 1000 to 1800h, Sundays and public holidays 1000 to 1500h. May to September: Tuesday to Saturday 1000 to 2000h, Sundays and public holidays 1000 to 1500h. Admission: €12, valid for 2 days. Temporary exhibitions €4 to €6. Discounts of between 30 and 50% for students, pensioners and groups. Free for under 16s, over 65s, teachers and art students. Also free every Saturday from 1500h as well as 12th February, 18th May and 11th and 24th September. Website: www.museunacional.cat
5. Maritime museum: Barcelona has been a place where cultures have collided since ancient times, and this museum celebrates the role of the sea in the city’s colourful history. Frequently playing host to exhibitions about the Elvis Presleys of the maritime world (that would be the Vikings), the Barcelona’s Maritime Museum also s contains numerous relics from Catalonia’s days as a seafaring empire. Highly recommendable for families with children.