Art in Barcelona – Museums, galleries and street art guide

A guide to the artistic side of Barcelona.


6 minute read
Updated on 20 Mar 2024

Barcelona isn't just the city of the Parc Guell and Sagrada Familia. Catalonia, and Barcelona in particular, is the region of origin of the most significant artists of the 20th-century. You'll find a great diversity of art museums, galleries and street art in Barcelona which you simply can't miss!

The best art museums in Barcelona

If you love visiting art museums to see an artist's collection and evolution over time, then Barcelona is going to keep you happy. Below you'll find some of the most popular museums and places to visit in Barcelona.

1. Museu Picasso

Did you know that Picasso arrived in Barcelona at the age of 14 to enter the school of Fine Arts?

Picasso held Barcelona close to his heart because of the impact the city had in shaping and making him a renowned artist. So it's no surprise that Barcelona has a museum dedicated to Picasso. And of all the art museums in Barcelona, Museo Picasso is probably the most famous.

Unlike the Picasso Museum in Paris, the originality of Museu Picasso comes from its impressive permanent collection of over 4,000 pieces. The pieces trace the evolution of his work chronologically; you'll witness some of his lesser know early works, artwork from the Blue Period, and paintings from the mature cubist era.

It's not just the collection but also the history of the museum that makes it worth visiting.

  1. Picasso was so fond of his dear friend and secretary Jaume Sabartés that he began dedicating each copy of his artwork to Sabartés. Over time, Picasso advised Sabartés to donate his collection of Picasso's work to Barcelona city. Picasso even promised to continue donating his work after Sabartés' death. Because of this, the museum has so much of Picasso's early work.

  2. Although Picasso was deeply involved in the creation of Museu Picasso, he never got to see it because he refused to visit Spain under the Franco regime.

Opening times: Open from Tuesdays to Sundays. Entrance ticket Cost: €7 to €12. Best time to visit: Visit for free Every Thursday from 16:00 - 19:00 or on the first Sunday of each month.

2. Fundació Joan Miró

If you enjoy long walks, culture, and surrealism, you've to make time for visiting the Fundació Joan Miró located in the huge Parc de Montjuïc.__

The foundation was founded by Miró himself and designed by his friend Jose Lluis Sert. Inside, you'll mainly see Miró's work which traces his complete artistic trajectory and evolution; from his training in Barcelona to his influences and links with the artistic movements of the 20th century.

Miro's fascination with child psychology influenced his style and led him to use bold colours and geometric shapes to create a sense of surrealism.

Fundació Joan Miró houses the largest collection of Miró's works: about 200 paintings, 200 sculptures, more than 6,200 sketches and notes collected by Miró throughout his life. Apart from that, you'll also get to see temporary exhibitions from other artists such as Marcel Duhcamp.

Opening times: Thursday to Sunday. Entrance ticket Cost: €7 to €13 (€5 to €7 for temporary exhibitions). Tip: Get an annual pass for €14 to visit the museum unlimited times.

3. Museu d'Art Contemporani Barcelona- The MACBA

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona is an ultra-modern building located in the "El Raval" district and designed by the American architect Richard Meier.

This museum mainly exhibits works from Catalonian and Spanish artists from the second half of the 20th century. You can expect to see modern Spanish artists such as Picasso, Miró or Dalí along with lesser known artists. The MACBA also hosts temporary exhibits to showcase contemporary art from international artists.

No matter which exhibition you visit, you'll certainly experience contemporary art that touches upon the political, social and economic dynamics of our time.

Once you're done, you can sit outside and watch the skaters do their tricks.

Opening times: Monday and Wednesday to Sunday. Entrance ticket Cost: €5.50 to €11 Tip: Get free entrance every Saturday starting from 16:00. Also enjoy free entry at select hours on February 12-13th, 17-18th April, 15th May, 18th May, and 24th September.

4. Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona- The CCCB

The Center for Contemporary Culture in Barcelona is often overshadowed by MACBA, the famous neighbouring museum. But the CCCB offers a different approach to contemporary art as it focuses much more on multimedia formats or interactive formats such as seminars, debates, festivals, concerts, conferences, screenings, etc.

The CCCB's 3 halls offer independent artists and creators a space to feature original and offbeat works revolving around science, technology, culture, design, film, photography, etc.

Ultimately, the CCCB makes for a perfect museum even for non-museum goers as it holds the promise to surprise and engage visitors.

Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday, including bank holidays. Entrance ticket Cost: €4 to €6 for one exhibition. €6 to €8 for two exhibitions. Tip: Want to watch a panoramic view of Barcelona's sea, mountains, and the city? Visit the 5th floor lookout for free on every first Sunday of the month.

5. Fundació Antoni Tàpies

A little less known than his Spanish colleagues Picasso and Miró, Antoni Tapiès is a modern day Catalan artist who was passionate about modern and contemporary art.

Tapiès was influenced by the likes of Miró and began using bold colours, geometrical shapes, waste paper, textured canvasses, or any material he could find to express his artistic vision. Most of his artwork was existential in nature and forced viewers to contemplate the meaning of life.

To share his love for modern and contemporary art and in 1984, he set up the Tapies Foundation to study and share knowledge about contemporary art.

Today, the foundation mainly houses Tapiès' collection and is a place where contemporary art and the knowledge of it can be appreciated in the form of engravings, drawings, paintings, sculptures, and publications.

Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday. Entrance ticket Cost: €6.40 to €8 for one exhibition. An annual pass costs €12. Tip: Visit this museum only if you're well versed in contemporary and modern art.

6. La CaixaForum

In Spain, banks also care about art. Two of the most important Spanish banks- La Caixa and Banco Santander- are important players in the national cultural and artistic scene.

Together they run the cultural centre La CaixaForum located in a former century old textile factory. Apart from the permanent contemporary art collection, there're exhibitions of ancient, modern and contemporary art, film screenings, concerts, debates and conferences, literature cycles, etc.

Opening times: Monday to Sunday, including holidays. Entrance ticket Cost: €6 Tip: Visit one of the theatre or musical shows after your visit to the museum to make it a day full of cultural activities.

7.Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya

Art history fans who want to explore Barcelona's art scene are going to love visiting The National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC). MNAC houses the most extensive collection of Catalan art from the 12th to the 20th Century, making it the perfect museum destination.

Visitors will get to see a huge collection of medieval art, probably the best Romanesque collection in the world, several modernista works, and paintings by famous artists such as Salvador Dali and El Greco.

After you're done viewing the museum's collection, climb up the castle to take in the stunning view of Barcelona.

Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday (different times during winter and summer). Entrance ticket Cost: €12 general admission. €14 for the Gaudi exhibit. Tip: Get free admission every Saturday from 15:00. And don't forget to pay special attention to the altarpiece by Saint Vincent because it's been intact since the 15th century.

8. Enjoy free art in Barcelona

Free admission to museums

Most of the museums in Barcelona offer free entrance to visitors on every first Sunday of the month. So mark your calendars and reach early in the morning, during lunch time, or right before closing time to avoid crowds.

Visit art galleries

Unlike art museums which have entrance fees, art galleries allow you to enter as you please and soak up all the art by modern day Spanish and international artists.

Some of the best art galleries in Barcelona include Toni Tapiès Gallery, Nogueras Blanchard and Galería Senda for emerging artists, ProjecteSD for innovative art, and Àngels Barcelona for experimental art.

Keep your eyes peeled for public art in Barcelona

Walking around Barcelona will also let you experience Barcelona's artistic side. Visit La Rambla to see a giant floor mosaic by Barcelona's beloved Joan Miró. You can also see his 22m high sculpture of Woman and Bird in Parc Joan Miró.

Some other famous public artworks include:

  • The Wounded Star by Rebecca Horn near the Barceloneta Beach,
  • The Face of Barcelona by Roy Lichtenstein at Barcelona's Port Vell
  • Peix by Franck Gehry at Olympic Port
  • Barcino by Joan Brossa at Plaça Nueva.
  • Meditacio by Josep Granyer at the intersection of La Rambla and La Gran Via.

Street art: Barcelona's Art Districts

Barcelona's street art is ubiquitous, and until recently artists from all over the world came here to unlease their creativity on the streets.

Until 2005, one could quietly realize a mural in broad daylight without being bothered by the police. Although this golden age is now over, you can still discover a selection of big names in street art in every corner: Btoy, Miss Van, C215, PEZ and many others.

The best areas and neighbourhoods in Barcelona for street art include the Gothic quarter, El Born, El Raval and the Three Chimney Urban Park, a purpose-built Graffiti Park. You can also see huge murals at La Carbonería and the junction of Career de Sant Pau and Carrer de La Riereta.

Now that you know about the many museums, foundations and galleries, you're ready to explore the artistic side of Barcelona!

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