One of the most important museums in Barcelona is the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, which is more commonly known by its initials MNAC. As its name suggests, it is dedicated to exhibiting and promoting Catalan art, although some of the works of non-Catalan artists can also be seen there.
The museum opened in 1990, when the then ‘Llei dels museus catalans’ (the law of Catalan museums) pressed for the union of the former Museu d’Art de Catalunya (Catalan Museum of Art) and the Museu d’Art Modern (the Museum of Modern Art). Many venues were discussed when considering where to house this new museum, and eventually the Palau Nacional de Montjuïc was chosen, at the foot of Montjuïc. The building had been designed for the International Exhibition of 1929, and it’s worth a visit just to see the magnificent building itself.
The Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya’s permanent collections include various forms of art (sculptures, paintings, etchings, posters, crafts, prints and photographs) ranging from Romanesque to mid-20th century origin. In addition to these permanent collections there are usually temporary exhibitions on display, always related to Catalan art.
Tickets to visit the MNAC
Access to the MNAC with ArticketBCN Passport
The MNAC’s collection of Romanesque art is considered the most complete and relevant collections in the world, if perhaps not the most famous. In it you will find paintings, murals, woodcarvings and sculptures from the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth centuries. In the majority of cases the works belong to the Romanesque churches in the Catalan Pyrenees.
The Gothic style is also of great importance and relevance to the MNAC, and it is represented by paintings, stone sculptures and craftsmanship in metals from the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries. Some of the most well-known artists are Jaume Cascalls, Pere Sanglada, Bernat Martorell and Jaume Huguet.
Renaissance and Baroque
Many of the works housed in the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya that pertain to the Renaissance and Baroque eras belong to private collections, as is the case of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection and the Cambó.
The MNAC also houses works ranging from the beginning of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century, by some of the most important artists of the time such as Fortuny, Gaudí, Casas, Rusiñol and Picasso.
A total of approximately 135,000 coins, notes and medals that date from the 6th century BC to the present day can be found in the Numismatics collection of the MNAC. Some of the coins are incredibly rare and the pieces of Catalan origin are of particular interest, especially locally where numismatics seems to be a popular hobby.
Drawings, prints and posters
In the area of the MNAC devoted to drawings, prints and posters, you will find works by leading artists such as Ramón Casas and Marià Fortuny.
To define the photographic collection at the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya with one word, the adjective would have to be ‘outstanding’. With examples dating back to when photography was first invented, to styles such as neorealism and photojournalism, there really is something for everyone in this exhibition.
As well as its magnificent works of art, the MNAC also has the bonus of offering some of the most incredible views of Barcelona from its terraces. From there you will see clearly the Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina and the mountain of Montjuïc, as well as many more distant buildings which form part of the city’s iconic skyline.
The entry price of the MNAC is rather high, but it does allow you two visits to the museum’s permanent collection for one month following the date of your first entry. There are also discounts of 30% for groups, students and the unemployed. It’s also worth noting that entry is free every Saturday from 15:00 and also the first Sunday of every month (but note that the museum only opens in the mornings on Sundays). It’s also free to enter on 11th and 24th September, as well as for children under 16 and senior citizens over the age of 65, as well as for accredited teachers and school groups.
Palau Nacional (Parc de Montjuïc), Barcelona.
From 1st October to 30th April (winter opening hours): from Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 to 18:00, Sundays and public holidays from 10:00 to 15:00.
From 1st May to 30th September (summer opening hours): from Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 to 20:00, Sundays and public holidays from 10:00 to 15:00..
Closed every Monday (except public holidays), and on 1st January, 1st May and 25th December.
General admission: 12.00€ (valid for two days).
Discounts: Students, unemployed, groups and accredited large families.
Free entry: Under-16s, senior citizens over the age of 65. Free entry for everyone on Saturdays after 15:00, and on the first Sunday of each month, as well as on 11th and 24th September, on the Santa Eulàlia’s Day on 12 February and on the Dia Internacional dels Museus (the International Museum Day) on 18th May.
Access just to the terraces: 2.00€.
How to get there
Metro: España (lines 1 and 3).
Buses: lines 9, 13, 27, 37, 50, 55, 65, 79, 109, 150, 165, D20, H12, V7 and tourist bus.
On foot: you can easily arrive on foot if you’re in the Poble Sec area of the city.