| |

National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC): The Ultimate Guide

The National Art Museum of Catalonia, or MNAC, sits right at the heart of Montjuïc and is a real eye-opener for anyone interested in art that spans over thousands of years. Here, you can wander through rooms filled with everything from ancient Romanesque church paintings to the sleek designs of the Modernisme movement. 

As someone who’s spent hours exploring its exhibits, I can vouch for the museum not just being a place to see art, but also to experience the stories and history behind each piece. 

So if you’re curious about what makes the MNAC a must-see in Barcelona, stick with me. You’re about to discover why this museum is such a hit for both art fans and history enthusiasts alike.

Disclosure: This post does contain affiliate links that I earn a small commission for at no extra cost to you. Any purchases you make through my links help keep the site running. Thanks in advance for your support!

What is the MNAC?

The National Art Museum of Catalonia is easily one of the best art museums in Barcelona and is a true cultural highlight of the city. The museum stands proudly on Montjuïc Hill and offers a diverse collection that ranges from the Romanesque period to the mid-20th century. 

It’s home to a vast array of works across many mediums, including sculptures, paintings, and coinage.

At the heart of MNAC, you’ll find the Romanesque art collection to be one of the most comprehensive in the world, particularly for its magnificent mural paintings. Gothic art fans will admire the intricate altarpieces, revealing insight into Catalonia’s medieval history.

The Renaissance and Baroque section highlights the developments in European art influenced by Italy and Flanders, while the section dedicated to Modern art traces the trajectory of Catalan art, with pieces from renowned artists like Gaudí and Casas.

Before visiting, make sure you also check for any special exhibitions or events that might coincide with your trip that you may be interested in seeing too, just to ensure you have enough time to see everything once you get here. 

And the MNAC doesn’t just impress with its extensive art collections – it’s also known for its panoramic views of Barcelona, which you can enjoy from the museum’s steps or terraces. It’s a great spot to grab a coffee and take it all in as the city stretches out below you.

Collections and Exhibits

The National Art Museum of Catalonia holds a vast array of artworks spanning from the Romanesque period to modern photography. Here’s what you’ll find in their impressive collection.

  • Romanesque Art: The Romanesque collection at MNAC is one of the world’s largest. You’ll find mural paintings from churches in the Pyrenees and works of wood sculpture, alongside metalwork and enamel arts. Notably, the Apse from Sant Climent de Taüll stands as a highlight with its Christ in Majesty fresco.
  • Gothic Art: MNAC’s Gothic Art collection guides you through the development of panel painting and sculpture between the 13th and 15th centuries. Bold altarpieces and serene statues await, with works like the Consecration of Saint Augustine painted by the Master of Castelsardo.
  • Renaissance and Baroque Art: In this section, you’re treated to works from the 16th to the 18th centuries with a focus on Catalan artists. Paintings by greats like El Greco and Velázquez are here, as well as pieces from Zurbarán and Ribera, showcasing the exchange between the Spanish and Italian artists of the time.
  • Modern Art: Modern Art at MNAC covers pieces from the mid-19th century to the first half of the 20th century. Discover bold sculptures, paintings, and decorative arts, including works by Gaudí and Ramón Casas. This collection reflects the social changes and artistic movements within Catalonia.
  • Photography: The museum’s photography collection offers a window into history with vintage prints and contemporary pieces. It chronicles the evolution of photography with a focus on Catalan photographers, capturing everything from the region’s landscapes to its pivotal historical moments.

Where is the MNAC located?

The Palau Nacional, built for the 1929 International Exhibition, houses the National Art Museum of Catalonia and stands as a landmark of Barcelona. Its architecture is a blend of Renaissance and Baroque elements, offering a grand view from Montjuïc hill. 

The museum’s façade is particularly notable for its classical columns and the large dome inspired by St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

You can even rent spaces within the MNAC for private events like conferences or weddings if you want. Each space carries its unique historical ambiance and while they do come with a price, you’ll also get a real sense of grandeur in these spaces, particularly given how incredible the building is.

Information on visiting the MNAC

If you’re planning a visit to the National Art Museum of Catalonia in Spain, here’s what you need to know to make the most of your trip. 

The museum offers a variety of admission options to cater to different visitors. Adult tickets are priced at €12, while students and seniors can enjoy a discounted rate of €8.40. In addition, if you’re interested in special exhibitions, the fees can vary, so it’s a good idea to check the museum’s website for the most current details. 

For those looking to save on admission, children under 16, museum members, and anyone visiting on Saturday from 3 pm or on the first Sunday of each month can enter for free. That said, it’s recommended to reserve online admission early if you plan to come during one of the free access times.

Regarding visiting hours, the museum adjusts its schedule seasonally. From October to April, it’s open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm, and Sundays and public holidays from 10 am to 3 pm. The summer months from May to September see extended hours, Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am to 8 pm, but still 10 am to 3 pm on Sundays and public holidays. 

The entire facility is accessible to wheelchairs, ensuring everyone can explore the museum comfortably. Service animals are also welcome.

And for an even more memorable visit, consider joining one of the museum’s guided tours. They’re available in several languages and cater to all sorts of visitors, including special tours designed for children and families. 

Education and Outreach

There are other great initiatives that you can find at the MNAC that aim to make art accessible and engaging for everyone, regardless of age. 

For example, for kids, there are hands-on Art Discovery Workshops and storytelling sessions that make art fun and interactive, letting their imagination run wild. Teens can explore the blend of art and technology in Creative Labs or get inspired about their future during Career Days by meeting art professionals.

For adults, the museum offers expert-led guided tours to deepen your appreciation of the art on display and art history courses for those who want to delve deeper into the stories behind the artworks.

Behind the scenes, the MNAC is also a hub for research and learning, with a well-stocked library and online resources. Whether you’re looking to browse through digital archives, dive into academic studies, or access rare books for your research, the museum has you covered. 

So whether you’re a curious kid, a tech-savvy teen, or an adult with a passion for art history, the MNAC has something to offer that’s sure to enrich your visit.

Written by Anna, Author of Spain Inspired Blog

Anna is the founder of Spain Inspired, where she shares insider tips and hidden gems to inspire visitors to take the road less traveled and explore Spain like a local. Now living in Valencia, Anna’s made it her mission to help fellow travelers experience the very best of this stunning country – with some great wine and tapas along the way, ideally!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *