The Picasso Museum: Masterpieces in Motion

Christian Petzold

Published November 27, 2023
The Picasso Museum Masterpieces In Motion

The Picasso Museum (Catalan: Museu Picasso) in Barcelona’s El Born district is one of the most popular museums in the city. More than 1 Million visitors per year come to see this museum with its outstanding collection of modern art.

Pablo Picasso was born in Malaga in the Spanish province of Andalucia. He dedicated 80 years of his life to arts. Due to this long productive time span he cannot be attributed to a single art movement.

The relationship between Picasso and Barcelona began when he moved to the city with his father at the age of 14. Picasso arrived in Barcelona in 1894 and created his first outstanding works here. From this period master-pieces like the First Communion (1896) and Science and Charity (1897) are displayed at Picasso Museum.

The collections at Picasso Museum are set up chronologically from his adolescence to Picasso’s final works:

  1. Málaga
  2. A Coruña
  3. Barcelona
  4. Málaga: summers of 1896 and 1897
  5. Madrid
  6. Horta de Sant Joan
  7. Barcelona: 1899–1900
  8. Paris: 1900–1901
  9. The Blue Period
  10. The Rose Period
  11. Barcelona: 1917
  12. 1917–1957
  13. Las Meninas
  14. Picasso engraver
  15. Picasso ceramist

During his time in Paris in the 1920s Pablo Picasso met with compatriots like Joan Miró and Salvador Dalí. The style of Cubism which was mainly developed by Picasso had a large influence on the young Salvador Dalí. Miró and Picasso even established a supportive friendship which can be seen in some of their works.

History of Picasso Museum

The Legacy of the 15th and 16th Centuries

The history of the Picasso Museum is deeply rooted in its architectural foundation. Initially constructed in the 13th century, the edifice that now houses the museum was once owned by the prominent Gerona family in the 15th century. The palace, an architectural marvel, stands as a testament to the rich cultural and historical heritage of Barcelona. It boasts a central courtyard and a facade adorned with a relief from the 16th century, illustrating religious themes. Over the centuries, it underwent several renovations, most notably in the 18th century, reflecting the changing tastes and sensibilities of its inhabitants.

Picasso Museum Logo

A Treasure Trove of Art: Collections and Donations

Museu Picasso is renowned for its vast and diverse collection, making it a pivotal destination for art enthusiasts worldwide. It boasts the largest collection of works from Picasso’s formative years, shedding light on his profound connection with Barcelona. With a staggering 4,250 pieces, the museum offers a comprehensive collection that traces Picasso’s artistic journey from Corunna, Malaga, Barcelona, to Madrid.

The museum’s extensive collection is complemented by an impressive array of ceramics, etchings, lithographs, and linocuts, generously donated by Picasso’s widow, Jacqueline. Additionally, a significant portion of the museum’s collection came from Sabartés’ personal stash of 574 artworks. Over the years, the museum has benefitted from numerous donations, including 41 pieces from Jacqueline Roque and 117 engravings from the Louise Leiris Gallery. One of the highlights of the museum is the unique display of Picasso’s personal interpretation of Velazquez’s Las Meninas, an unparalleled collection of 57 works, exclusively showcased together.

A Glimpse into the Palatial Past

The museum’s location is as intriguing as the art it houses. Initially set in Palau Aguilar on Montcada Street, the museum has since expanded, incorporating other historical palaces into its domain. Palau Aguilar, Palau del Baró de Castellet, and Palau Meca serve as the primary venues for the museum’s permanent collection. The Casa Mauri, with structures dating back to Roman times, offers visitors a journey through the annals of history, from the suburbs of ancient Barcino to the present.

Picasso Museum Stairs 1

More than Just a Museum: Activities and Merchandise

For those looking to immerse themselves further, the Picasso Museum in Buitrago del Lozoya offers a plethora of activities and temporary exhibitions, organized by the Community of Madrid. These events provide a deeper understanding of Picasso’s life, his inspirations, and the impact of his art on contemporary culture.

Visitors can also take home a piece of the museum experience. The museum shop, while not obligatory, is a treasure trove of books, cards, and museum-branded items like mugs and T-shirts, perfect for art enthusiasts and collectors.

 Maximizing Your Experience

Best Time to Visit

  • Off-Peak Hours: Early mornings, right after the museum opens, or late afternoons, about an hour before closing time, can provide a more intimate experience. Tuesdays and Wednesdays tend to be quieter, giving you ample space and time to appreciate the art.
  • Seasonal Considerations: Spring (April to June) and fall (September to November) are ideal. The weather is pleasant, and you can enjoy the nearby attractions without the summer heat or winter chill. Additionally, these periods often see fewer tourists, making your museum visit more serene.

Accessibility

  • Wheelchair Access: All galleries and facilities have been adapted for wheelchair access. The museum also offers free wheelchair rental at the entrance, but it’s advisable to book in advance.
  • Audio Guides: These hand-held devices, available for a small fee, offer detailed commentary on selected artworks, the museum’s architecture, and Picasso’s life. They’re available in Spanish, Catalan, English, French, Italian, German, Russian, and Japanese.

Nearby Attractions

  • El Born District: This vibrant neighborhood is a blend of the old and new. Explore the narrow medieval streets, relax in the picturesque squares, and indulge in authentic Spanish cuisine.
  • Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar: Built between 1329 and 1383, this basilica is a masterpiece of Catalan Gothic architecture. The rooftop offers panoramic views of the city.

Dining and Accommodation

  • Local Cuisine: Try “pa amb tomàquet” (bread with tomato) or “crema catalana” (Catalan cream) at one of the nearby tapas bars. El Xampanyet, located close to the museum, is renowned for its tapas and cava.
  • Hotels: Whether you’re looking for luxury at the Grand Hotel Central or budget-friendly options like the Chic & Basic Born Boutique Hotel, the area caters to all preferences.

Museum Etiquette

  • Photography: While you can capture the museum’s architecture, taking photos of the artworks might be restricted. Always look for signs or ask museum staff.
  • Dress Code: Comfort is key. Wear comfortable shoes, as you’ll be walking and standing for extended periods. Carrying a light shawl or jacket can be handy in the air-conditioned sections.

Special Events and Workshops

  • Art Workshops: Especially popular among younger visitors, these workshops offer hands-on experiences, from pottery making inspired by Picasso’s ceramics to sketching sessions.
  • Temporary Exhibitions: These exhibitions often provide a fresh perspective on Picasso’s work, showcasing his lesser-known pieces or drawing parallels with contemporary art.

Tips for a Memorable Experience

  • Guided Tours: These tours, often led by art historians or experts, delve deep into Picasso’s techniques, inspirations, and revolutionary contributions to modern art.
  • Membership: With benefits like unlimited free entry, exclusive previews of temporary exhibitions, and discounts in the museum shop, a membership can be a worthwhile investment for art enthusiasts.
  • Gift Shop: Beyond the usual souvenirs, the shop offers high-quality art reproductions, books on Picasso’s life and works, and unique artisanal products inspired by his art.

Planning Your Visit

For those looking to delve into the world of Picasso, a general admission ticket to the museum is priced at €12. This ticket grants access to both the permanent collection and the temporary exhibitions. Alternatively, art lovers can opt for a separate ticket solely for the temporary exhibition at €6.50.

Picasso Museum – Facts

Opening hours: Tuesday to Sundays from 10:00 to 20:00, closed on Mondays and 1st January, 1st May, 24th June, 25th and 26th December

How to get to Museu Picasso?

By metro take the yellow line L3 to Jaume I. Walk down Calle de la Princessa for 200 metres. Turn right into Carrer de Montcada and after 50 metres you have reached Museu Picasso.

Further information on www.museupicasso.bcn.es.