This is my insider’s guide to the best museums and major art galleries in Barcelona! Read about my personal experience, with tips and valuable local knowledge given to me by my dear Catalan friends. My list contains museums that I’ve either been to or I would like to visit. I have included entrance fees and how much time to allocate, though you will still need to Google further information, like addresses and opening times. Museums are often closed on Mondays and lots of them have a free entrance day on the first Sunday of every month.
The Major Museums and Art Galleries of Barcelona
Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC)
The Nacional Art Museum of Catalonia, Montjuïc
A must see. This is one of the largest museums in Spain and houses the national collection of Catalan art. Give yourself a few days to take in this extensive exhibition. I suggest digesting one era on each half day visit (2 hours at a time is plenty). I recommend starting with the Romanesque – check the grotesque creatures in the well preserved frescoes presented in church mockups. Also there is a film where you can watch how the restorers do their work. You can work your way slowly through all the exhibition rooms. Enjoy the views of the city outside. Pre-book your ticket. Saturdays entrance is free after 3pm. 12€ all other times.
Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA)
Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art
I would split this visit into two half days, as there’s always so much contemporary art to take in. There are always brilliant temporary exhibitions as well as the permanent exhibition, that too seems to change quite often. The building is located in an arty area, in El Ravel and has a large pedestrian forecourt, where people hang out. 11€ entrance. Free from 4-8pm Saturdays. You need to pre-book your tickets.
Museu Etnològic de Barcelona, Montjuïc
Ethnological Museum on Montjuïc
This is a small museum on Montjuïc, where there is a fantastic collection of ex-voto devotional folk art in the basement and all kinds of ancient glass and pottery. Visiting the basement is free. Upstairs is a small museum that goes into detail about various aspects of everyday Catalan life and craftsmanship, from history through to the present day. Give yourself at least a couple of hours in here. Book your tickets in advance, even for the downstairs. 5€ entrance.
Museo Etnológico y de Culturas del Món
Ethnological Museum Barcelona
This will blow your socks off! There are so many strange and wonderful offerings from all around the world. All are well lit and well presented. The museum is located in the Born area. Give yourself plenty of time, like one to two days. Pre-book tickets – first Sunday of the month is free entrance, 3.50€ all other times.
The Museu del Disseny de Barcelona
The Design Museum, Barcelona
If you like cantilevers, you’ll love the architecture of this museum located in the Glories neighbourhood. The contents vary from the modern day items we take for granted, down to the numerous exquisitely crafted objects, large and small, that reflect an extremely wealthy history. You can easily fill half a day in there. Pre-book tickets – first Sunday of the month is free entrance, 6€ all other times.
Museo de Historia de Barcelona MUHBA
History Museum Barcelona
Walk around the ancient Roman ruins that lay beneath the cities Gothic Quarter and get an insight into the beginnings of Barcelona, when there was a population of just 3000. Allow half a day. Pre-book tickets – first Sunday of the month is free entrance, 7€ all other times.
Museu Frederic Marès, barrio Gotico
The Museum of Frederic Marès, Gothic quarter
OMG this is an incredible museum, that not only houses sculptures by Frederic Marèsa but also houses his crazy private collection from pre-Roman times, through medieval Christian art to selected items from up to the middle of last century. You can view thousands of relics that he hoarded from all over Catalonia – giant carved wooden crucifixes saved from Romanesque churches in the Pyrenees and upstairs there are literally thousands of finely crafted everyday artisan objects, like fans and pipes, squirrelled away from Catalan high society. Allow at least a full day to get around this surprising museum and make sure you see everything! Pre-book tickets. Free entrance first Sunday of the month, 2.40€ all other times.
Palau de la Virreina, La Rambla
Located on the main Rambla, it’s easy to find. They put on well informed temporary exhibitions, in this beautiful 18th century palace. Check the ceiling decorations in some of the rooms. Allow at least 2 hours. Pre-book tickets. Admission is free.
Museu d’Història de Catalunya
The History Museum of Catalonia
So many things to find out here about life in Catalonia, from domestic life to how the Catalonians championed the 40 hour week. Located in the Palau de Mar by the port and Barcelonetta.
Museo de Picasso
I’m a fan of Picasso’s easy line, even though his reputation around women has a lot to be desired. I have yet to visit this museum. Free entrance Thursdays 5-8pm – you need to pre-book tickets. 12€ entrance.
Museo de Ciencia CosmoCaixa
CosmoCaixa science museum
I have yet to explore this museum. 10-8pm. Pre-book tickets. Entrance 6€
Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona, Montjuïc
Natural sciences Museum, Montjuïc
Located next to the botanical gardens, I have yet to explore this. Pre-book tickets. Entrance 6€
Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau
The Hospital of the Holy Cross and St. Paul
This elaborately built hospital is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a sprawling masterpiece of what the early 20th century would loosely describe as Art Nouveau architecture. I love cycling past the entrance but have yet to go in. Entrance is 15€, book in advance.
Fundació Joan Miró, Montjuïc
Joan Miró Foundation, Montjuïc
I would still love to visit this museum. Pre-book tickets. Entrance 13€.
Can Framis Museum
Contemporary Catalan art
I’d still like to visit this place. Pre-book tickets – 8€ entrance.
Private art galleries
There are a vast amount of private galleries dotted around Barcelona, far too many for me to write about here – enjoy exploring!
Thank you for reading
I hope you have found this guide to Barcelona’s museums helpful. Now, before you go, have a browse of my art – I’ve created a lot of the paintings since living in Barcelona! All my art can be easily shipped worldwide.
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