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Though you can see the works of Pablo Picasso in just about every famous museum, the best place to learn about this revolutionary painter, his life, and his artwork is in his native Spain.

Located in the heart of Barcelona, the Picasso Museum (Spanish: Museo Picasso) feature a number of rotating and traveling exhibitions, dedicated to the different periods of Picasso’s work, ranging from the very realistic to the very surrealistic.

Barcelona was where he studied to become an artist, where he was an apprenticed, and where some of his formative work was done. The museum was commissioned built before his death and contained mostly just the works of his personal friends, who readily donated them for public viewing.

Before Picasso died in 1973, he donated his own private collection of his paintings, largely from his earliest days of painting, even from his youth. One of the highlights of this collection was the Las Meninas suite, a series of 58 interpretations of Diego Velázquez work of the same name.

After his death, more donations poured in, from all around the world and may works are transferred from other museums to find their permanent home among his other paintings, drawings, and sculptures. So many pieces were donated and collected from other venues that the museum had to expand in 1999 and then further remolded in 2003, to ensure that the space was both large enough to accommodate the paintings and to pay homage to the vastness of his work.

Of any other art museum in the world, this one has the definitive collection of Picasso’s work, with a special emphasis on his early and formative works. Other art museums have some of his more iconic pieces (including Guernica, which can be found in Madrid), but this museum especially shows his development from a classically trained artist into a true cubist. And because he spent a great deal of his studies in Barcelona, the art itself reflects the atmosphere of the city in a way that nothing else can.

The largest standing exhibit represents Picasso’s blue period, but there are also traveling exhibits and wings still in the works that show the history of the museum itself, as well as artwork from contemporary artists that have been influenced by the work of Picasso. The Picasso Museum endeavors not only to show off the work of this great master, but also to show the cultural relevance of the work that he has done. He was influential in his time, but as one of the great modern and post-modern artists, his work does influence and will continue to influence generations of artists for years to come.

The museum all boast a few special activities, starting with a number of guided tours, to delve deeper into the exhibits, their history, and the life of Picasso himself. Individual works, highlighted for their significance in the art community or in the progression of Picasso’s style, are explained and put into the context of their time. Both guided tours and audio guides are available.

If you have time, there is also a Picasso Museum reading club, which examines both Picasso himself and the world he lived in. Books are posted online, and if you have time to stop in and chat about the man and the art, you will see not only how important he was during his time period, but also how important he is now.