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Picasso Museum

The best collection of works by the young Picasso

More than 4,000 works exhibited in five Gothic architecture palaces show the painter’s formative period and his close relationship with Barcelona. The various Gothic palaces of the monumental historic and artistic complex on Carrer de Montcada include the Picasso Museum, which was expressly created at the request of the cubist genius, who lived in Barcelona as a young man.

Why visit the Picasso Museum?

The Picasso Museum is located in the Ribera district, now popularly known as El Born, more specifically on the splendid Carrer de Montcada, a remnant of Barcelona’s past and the city’s most important nucleus of medieval civil architecture. The almost 4,300 pieces exhibited in the art museum are distributed throughout five palaces that share a central courtyard and external staircase.

The Malaga-born artist’s express wish that Barcelona should be the permanent home of a museum featuring his work as a young man was realised thanks to the collaboration of his secretary and friend Jaume Sabartés. In fact, Picasso had a special relationship with Barcelona ever since the Ruiz Picasso family moved there in the late 19th century, when he was 14 years old. The young man who would be one of the great geniuses of 20th-century painting spent his formative years in the Catalan capital, studied at its Llotja Fine Arts School and took his first steps as a painter there. When he was 18 years old, in the full splendour of the Modernisme movement, Picasso attended the opening of the Quatre Gats café, which would become a centre for Catalan intellectuals and the place where the young artist would exhibit his first paintings.

The Barcelona Picasso Museum, inaugurated in 1963, was the world’s first dedicated entirely to Picasso and the only one created during the lifetime of the artist, who in 1919 had given the city one of his major works, Harlequin. It started at Palau Aguilar with the private collection of his friend Jaume Sabartés i Gual and other collections of Picasso’s works from other museums in the city, such as the Plandiura collection and the collection of drawings bequeathed by Lluís Garriga i Roig. Even Salvador Dalí and Gala donated works from their collection.

Over the years, the collection grew and the museum grew with it, annexing adjacent buildings. The last donation the museum received was in 2015: the archive of Brigitte Baer, a specialist in the painter’s graphic work. This collection makes the Barcelona Picasso Museum the world’s leading centre to study the artist’s drawings and engravings.

The Picasso Museum now exhibits the largest collection of the artist’s work up to his blue period, inside a monumental complex of Catalan Gothic architecture without equal.

 

How do you get to the Picasso Museum?

The Picasso Museum is in the Born district, which you can access from the Pla de Palau – Parc de la Ciutadella stop or from the Barri Gòtic stop on the Red Route of Barcelona Bus Turístic.

 

For the most curious of you

  • Did you know? In his youth Picasso frequented the Quatre Gats café. The artist painted the menus of the café in exchange for the opportunity to hold an exhibition there.
  • Local’s tip: If you want to discover some of Picasso’s less well-known work, visit the Architects’ Association of Catalonia in Plaça Nova, the cathedral square. The building has a mural with sgraffito work designed by Picasso and undertaken by Carl Nesjar.
  • A must: To understand Picasso’s genius and his relationship with Barcelona.