Great Art Museums

A Thousand years
of Art in Barcelona

The National Museum of Art of Catalonia presents an overview of European artistic currents from Romanesque to the Avant-guard movements of the 19th and 20th centuries.  The department in the Catalan capital is the world’s best museum of medieval art.

Barcelona - The National Museum of Art of Catalonia (MNAC) offers the exclusive exploration of a thousand years of European art. The department in Barcelona shows works from the main artistic currents, in sequence, starting with Romanesque and moving on through Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance to conclude with Modernisme, the Catalan Art Nouveau. Every year about half a million people visit the MNAC and it is expected that this figure will double over the next two years.

Having been extended, Europe’s leading museum of Romanesque and Gothic art now offers a superb selection of medieval works with monographic sections dedicated to individual painters or specific themes. Of outstanding quality is the collection of Romanesque murals, among the best of its kind, with paintings duplicated in situ. To showcase the first Catalan movement to achieve international recognition in Europe, a selection of works is on display which are intrinsically Catalan, and date back to the period between the 11th and 13th centuries.

These exceptional collections include masterpieces of Romanesque art such as the paintings and sculptures of the Vall de Boí (Boí Valley) that adorned the churches in the valleys of the Pirineo Occidental region. Among the works on exhibit are the Crist de Mitjaran (Christ of Mitjaran) the Davallament d’Erill La Vall (The Deposition of Erill La Vall) and the well-known Figura de Maria (figure of the Holy Virgin).

 The MNAC also exhibits numerous Gothic works, of a more austere nature and with even less ornamentation than works from other regions, forming the antithesis of the Romanesque current. The collection includes altarpieces and examples of figurative works by artists such as Jaume Huguet, Bernat Martorell, Bartolomé Bermejo and el Maestro de Baltimore.

Furthermore, the MNAC houses some of the most prominent artistic creations of modern art covering Neoclassicism, Romanticism, Realism, Modernisme (Catalan Art Nouveau), Noucentisme (cultural movement of political scope), la generación de 1917 and the Avant-guard. This sample of modern art is supplemented by the valued contribution of the collection of Catalan art of Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza.

 European painting between the 14th and 19th centuries.

As a prime museum, the MNAC adds part of the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection to its section on Renaissance and Baroque. The collection includes some of the most significant works in painting, sculpture and decorative arts which set off Catalan art against coeval works from other areas.

An outstanding component in this category is the heritage left by Francesc Cambó, comprising Renaissance and Baroque paintings, covering the history of painting in Europe from  the 14th to the 19th century. Cambo’s compilation groups artists from this period, such as Rubens, Tintoretto, El Greco, Juan Enríquez de Herrera y Bassano, amongst others.

The museum completes its collection of the main movements that make up the history of European art with works by Velázquez, Goya, Marià Fortuny, Llimona, Gaudí, Casas, Rusiñol and Fra Angelico.

Editor's note: we're grateful to Barcelona Tourism for providing us with this article 

For further information you may follow these links:

The National Museum of Art of Catalonia

Barcelona Tourism