National Art Museum of Catalonia
A collection of unique pieces of Catalan art
The National Art Museum of Catalonia is particularly renowned for its collection of Romanesque art, as it is considered to be one of the world’s most comprehensive. It also has valuable works of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and modern art.
Why visit the National Art Museum of Catalonia?
The National Art Museum of Catalonia, located in Montjuïc’s Palau Nacional, is home to 25,000 pieces of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and modern art. You can also see drawings, engravings and posters, photographs and coins.
Its Romanesque collection, which encompasses pieces from the 11th to the 13th centuries, is the museum’s most significant. One of its most outstanding elements is a series of frescoes, many of which are from small rural churches in the Pyrenees. These include the famous "Pantocrator" or "Christ in Majesty", a leading work from the 12th century, which was located in the apse of Sant Climent de Taüll. This collection also includes a set of paintings on wood that is unlike any other in Europe.
The Gothic art collection, covering the period from the end of the 12th century to the 15th century, is representative of the peak of Catalonia’s territorial power within the context of Mediterranean Europe. You can admire masterpieces by the painters Jaume Huguet, Lluís Dalmau, Bernat Martorell and Lluís Borrassà, among others.
Renaissance and Baroque art are almost exclusively represented by the works from the private collection of the Catalan politician and patron of the arts Francesc Cambó. They are pieces from the Italian Quattrocento and the masters of the Cinquecento like Sebastiano del Piombo and Titian, in addition to Spanish Golden Age paintings and rococo pieces. The most important pieces outside the Cambó Bequest include a "Martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew" by Ribera, an "Immaculate Conception" by Zurbarán, and a "Saint Paul" by Velázquez.
The National Art Museum of Catalonia’s modern art collection was started for the 1888 Universal Exposition and currently contains some of the best Catalan art from the early 19th century to the 1940s. The journey starts with Neoclassicism and progresses through Romanticism and Realism to Modernisme.
This collection features paintings like "The Spanish Wedding" by Marià Fortuny, along with works by representatives of Modernisme, like Antoni Gaudí and Ramon Casas, and of the avant-garde movements, like Picasso and Miró. The museum is also home to exceptional interior design sets from Casa Amatller, Casa Lleó i Morera and Casa Batlló.
The building that houses the National Art Museum of Catalonia is also of great artistic and architectural interest. It is Montjuïc’s Palau Nacional, which was built for the 1929 Universal Exposition. Built in the classicist style, it has a surface area of almost 50,000 m². Its most outstanding element is its facade, which is crowned by a large dome inspired by Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. The views from its front courtyard are some of the city’s most exceptional. This palace has been home to the museum since 1934, although the collection was initially limited to medieval art and not extended to other periods until much later.
For the most curious of you
- Did you know? Since 2004, the museum is also home to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection of paintings and sculptures. These include works by Marià Fortuny, Ramon Casas and Antoni Tàpies, among others.
- Local’s tip: The National Art Museum of Catalonia organises temporary exhibitions on subjects beyond the museum’s usual subjects.
- A must: To enjoy one of the world’s best exhibitions of Romanesque art.