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 Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC) 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 were 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.
Getting There: 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 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.
What to See at the National Art Gallery of Catalunya
The galleries are laid out according to era and types of art. It’s a good idea to get one of the free audioguides from the reception desk to guide you through the exhibits. 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, Velazquez and other famous Spanish artists. 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.
MNAC: Useful Information
Address: Palau Nacional, Parc de Montjuïc
Tuesday to Saturday: 10am-7pm
Sundays + Public Holidays: 10am-2.30pm
Closed: Monday: FREE on 1st Thursday of every month
Official Website: MNAC
Nearest Metro: Plaça Espanya