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MNAC – National Art Museum of Catalonia

The world’s largest collection of Catalan art

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This palace is home to an extensive collection of Catalan art and exceptional Romanesque paintings. Located at Montjuïc’s Palau Nacional, the main site of the 1929 International Exposition, the National Art Museum of Catalonia groups works by artists from the Romanesque period to the present day.

What can you see at the MNAC?

At the National Art Museum of Catalonia you can enjoy collections of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque art, in addition to modern art, drawings, engravings, posters, photographs and coins. The collection also includes an Art History Library and General Archive and holds temporary exhibitions on subjects not usually covered by the museum.

One of its most impressive features is its frescoes, many of which are from small rural churches in the Pyrenees and locations in the area known as Old Catalonia, which were recovered by the Institute of Catalan Studies in the early 20th century. The most important of these is the famous Pantocrator or Christ in Majesty, a 12th-century masterpiece, which was located in the apse of Sant Climent de Taüll. The Romanesque collection also includes a set of paintings on wood that is unlike any other in Europe.

In addition to contemplating major works of Romanesque and Gothic art, at the MNAC you can also journey through the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque periods and see the private collection bequeathed by the Catalan politician and patron of the arts Francesc Cambó to enrich the Renaissance and Baroque collections, which includes pieces from the Italian Quattrocento and works by the masters of the Cinquecento like Sebastiano del Piombo and Titian, in addition to Spanish Golden Age paintings and rococo pieces. The Cambó Bequest was enhanced by the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, which is a set of paintings and sculptures that presents a global vision of European art from the 14th to the 18th centuries.

The 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 one of the backbones of the modern art collections: Modernisme, including exceptional interior design sets from Casa Amatller, Casa Lleó i Morera and Casa Batlló. Another movement with significant representation at the MNAC is Noucentisme, which led to the avant-garde.

The building that houses the National Art Museum of Catalonia is also of great artistic and architectural interest. It is the Palau Nacional on Montjuïc, which was built in a classicist style inspired by Spanish Renaissance architecture and designed by Eugenio Cendoya and Enric Catà. The palace, which has a surface area of almost 50,000 m², has a rectangular floor plan with two lateral structures and a square rear. Its facade is crowned by a large dome, inspired by that of Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, flanked on either side by two smaller ones, and four towers inspired by the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The views from its front patio are some of the city’s most exceptional.

 

How do you get to the MNAC?

The MNAC stop on the Red Route of Barcelona Bus Turístic is next to the Palau Nacional, where the museum is located.

 

For the most curious of you

  • Did you know? Since 2013 it has been possible to access the terraces of the palace and follow a route around the building’s exterior to enjoy its unbeatable views of the city.
  • Local’s tip: The MNAC’s collection is truly extensive. We recommend you consult the museum’s online catalogue to tailor your visit to your needs.
  • A must: To enjoy the full scope of Catalan art and contemplate the world’s best collection of Romanesque paintings.