In spite of its original name of Hash Marihuana Cañamo & Hemp Museum Barcelona, it’s usually simply referred to in Spanish as the Museu del Cannabis or the Museu de la Marihuana, as the original name is so long. As all the names by which the museum is known indicate, it’s an informative centre that will tell you all about the history of cannabis, giving a more open-minded and balanced view of the plant and explaining its qualities and benefits, which have been enjoyed by various civilizations for centuries.
Many people have some doubt about the different terminology used to refer to the plant. Cannabis is the scientific name, ‘cañamo’ (hemp) is the Spanish name, and marijuana is a variety of cannabis that has a higher content of the substance called THC, the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis.
A sort of ‘franchise’ of Amsterdam’s Hash Marijuana & Hemp Museum, the site in Barcelona was opened in 2012 and it boasts a space of 900m2, 9 times bigger than that of Amsterdam, which makes it the biggest museum exclusively dedicated to the cannabis plant.
The building where the Hash Marijuana & Hemp Museum is located is worth a visit in itself, because it’s the Palau Mornau (Mornau Palace), one of the remaining medieval buildings that still stands in the Old Town of the city. Although the building was commissioned by the Santcliment family, it takes the name of another of its illustrious owners, Josep Francesc de Mornau, who was the honorary commissioner of the Guerra de los Reales Ejércitos at the end of the 18th century.
Despite the fact that the Palau Mornau, built in the 16th century, still has the original building’s foundations, it underwent an extension and a thorough remodelling at the beginning of the 20th century, which can be seen today in the many modernist elements, both inside and on its façade, which makes the palace a rich building with all kinds of ornamental details.
Nearly a century after the great renovation of the building it was in a very run-down state, until Ben Dronkers, the owner of Amsterdam’s Hash Marijuana & Hemp Museum, showed an interest in it in 2002 as the potential new site for the Barcelona version of his business, and he started a new renovation to turn it into a museum space. Following several years of work the architect Jordi Romeu succeeded in breathing new life into the building, restoring elements inside such as the windows, floors and doors, and doing the same with the façade, as well as filling nearly all the spaces with references to hemp.
What elements to look out for in the building?
The colourful glass ceiling, that was made during the 19th century restoration.
The use of wrought iron in the façade, especially prominent in the upper balconies.
All of the details that make up the inside of the building, that you can clearly see on the doors and the panelled ceilings, as well as on the floor, decorated with roman style mosaics.
The eye-catching fireplace in the great hall.
Your visit to the museum
The visit to the museum will take approximately an hour, although this will of course vary according to how much time you dedicate to each of the building’s features and the interest you show in each of the nearly 6,500 display items, all related to hemp, that make up the museum. Items that stand out amongst them include some important frescoes by well-known flamenco artists, different types of African and Asian pipes, a collection of bottles of medicinal cannabis from the 19th century and a botanical collection from the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century.
The first room of the Hash Museum provides you with information about the basic history of the plant, so that in the other rooms you can delve further into cannabis’s industrial use (the production of oils, plastics, wood and paper), nutritional use (it’s rich in high-quality protein) and its medicinal properties (its use for the treatment of asthma, cancer, migraines, insomnia etc).
The museum arranges guided tours in Spanish and Catalan, and by prior arrangement in other languages such as English, French and Italian. Thanks to the stories and anecdotes that your guide will share with you, you’re sure to find out all sorts of interesting facts about this fascinating plant and about the building that houses the museum.
Other spaces that stand out are the room in which the close relation between cannabis and the hippie movement is explored, of which the great exponent was the singer Bob Marley, and the room that’s dedicated towards giving a clear message about the legalisation of marijuana.
At the end of the visit you’ll pass through the museum’s small souvenir shop, that sells a large amount of objects relating to marijuana, for example all sorts of books, pipes, wallets, T-shirts, caps, posters, cigarette lighters etc. You could say that in the Hash Museum you’ll be able to find everything except for a ‘Cannabis Coffee Shop’, along the lines of those in Amsterdam, as we should of course point out that smoking marijuana in Barcelona is illegal.
Throughout your visit to the museum you will be able to take photographs, something that most visitors greatly appreciate, as it’s always good to come away from such interesting museums with mementos of your visit.
The visit to Barcelona’s Hash Marijuana & Hemp Museum is likely to make the most staunch supporters of cannabis cling to their principles and opinions about the benefits of the plant, and to help the more sceptical to form a more balanced opinion and to better get to know the properties and characteristics of the plant.
c/ (street) Ample 35, Barcelona
From Monday to Saturday: 10:00 to 22:00.
Sunday and Bank holidays: 14:00 to 22:00.
24th and 31st December: 12:00 to 20:00.
Spanish: Saturdays at 17:00.
Catalan: Sundays at 12:00.
Other languages: English, French and Italian, and other languages by advance request via firstname.lastname@example.org or +34 933 197 539.
General admission: €9.
Concessions: 20% discount for groups of 10 or more.
Free entry: Under-13s.
Nearby places of interest
Metro: Jaume I (line 4) and Drassanes (line 3).
Buses: lines 45, 59, 120, D20, H14, V13, V15, V17 and tourist bus.
By foot: we recommend arriving on foot if you’re already in the El Born district.