The Museu Nacional d’Art De Catalunya, or the MNAC, is the focal point of Barcelona’s art community. Aside from the Picasso and Joan Miro Museums, it is the most incredible collection of art in Europe, not only of Spanish art, but of masters from all over the world. With a special focus on the Romanesque period, to the middle of the twentieth century, this museum follows the history of art from the very beginning to almost the present day.
The pre-Renaissance work, especially, sheds light on life in the Barcelona-area before the cultural revolution that was to come. The entire collection, which is incredible simply as a stand-alone collection, is also compared, within the museum, to work in other regions of the world. Not only is the history of Spain documented in the art, but the entire history of the civilized world. The Renaissance collection, especially, is classified both by how it affected the Catalan region and how it affected other parts of the world. After the Renaissance, the collections trend more towards Catalan, and the effects of different ideologies on the art in this region.
Works of the masters from every movement are housed in the MNAC, along with their documentation and originals or copies of publications written about those pieces. Besides the art itself, the MNAC takes special care of damaged or defaced works, which reveals that the MNAC is not just a collection of art, but also that the curators take especial stewardship over Catalan’s artistic heritage, preserving it for future generations.
Any art or history enthusiast will be awed by the sheer amount of work that calls MNAC its own, as well as the beauty of the building itself and the care taken to ensure that the pieces are protected. Even if you are not a fan of art, a visit to this museum will make you one. There is no more spectacular collection of historical art anywhere in Europe.
Pre-booked group tours can be scheduled through the museum’s website, but there are also tours available for individuals, which can be joined when you arrive at the museum. The tour and explanation of the historical significance of the MNAC’s collection is conducted only once a month, on the first Sunday. A unique insight into the museum’s special collection (which are not on display for the public), are conducted every Friday. Tours of the entire building are available every Sunday morning. All of these tours are presented in several different languages and you can even schedule a private tour to learn about the aspects of a certain artistic movement and how it manifests itself in Catalan art.
When you are finished basking in the glory of the art collections, you can eat dinner at the Oleum Restaurant, which features the best Mediterranean dishes in Barcelona, or the Café del MNAC for lighter fare.
If you are only in Barcelona for the day, this is the place to visit. The collection of paintings, sculptures, drawings, and documents is truly one of the treasures of Barcelona.