Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC)
Art enthusiasts visiting Barcelona must pay a visit to the magnificent National Art Gallery of Catalunya which exhibits works of Catalan art from the Romanesque period to the mid-twentieth century. In terms of collection size and quality of exhibits this is one of the best art museums in Spain and no tour of Europe’s art galleries will be complete without at least a day’s visit.
The National Art Gallery of Catalunya is a combination of three museums and the wide variety in its collection reflects this. In 1990 the collections of the old Museu d’Art de Catalunya and the Museu d’art Modern was united and declared a national museum. The collection is large and due to the spacious halls of the museum most of it is on display. Unless you have a few days to devote to the National Art Gallery of Catalunya you’ll definitely need to prioritize your visit.
The galleries are laid out according to era and type of art and you’ll find that a good plan is necessary to see everything that you want to see. You might want to grab one of the free audioguides that are available in the front lobby to guide you through but keep in mind that you should make specific stops to see things that interest you. In the Romanesque wing be sure to take a look at the exceptional Apse of Santa Maria de Taull with its intense blues that come from precious lapis lazuli.
When visiting the Gothic art keep an eye out for the small oil paintings of Jaume Huguet the primary artist of the Catalan school. You can also see important works by El Greco, Goya and Velazquez. Make sure you take a look at El Greco’s famous Saint Peter and Saint Paul painting as well as Velazquez’s evocative Saint Paul.
The modern art collection of the National Art Gallery of Catalunya is the best collection of Catalan modern art in the world both in terms of quantity and quality. Of especial note are Ricard Canals’ Cafe Concert and Ramon Casas’ Interior but don’t deny yourself the opportunity to wander.
Of all the wings the modern art galleries are the most accessible and provide a delightful stroll though some truly memorable works of art.
To get to the National Art Gallery of Catalunya the nearest metro stop is at Placa Espanya using the Green Line L3 and the Red Line L1 or you can take advantage of the enormously useful Bus Turistic. The National Art Gallery of Catalunya is the seventh most visited building in Barcelona and not just for the art! From the steps of the museum be sure take in the breathtaking view of Barcelona that lies below before you enter.
MNAC Opening Hours
Sun. + Public Holidays: 10am-2.30pm
Official Website: MNAC
Nearest Underground Station: Placa Espanya
FREE on 1st Thursday of every month