Review of Barcelona Museums0
Barcelona has a rich cultural scene that I only managed to visit for a few days while in Spain for MuseumNext 2012. While I also did a walking tour and realize there are many non-museum cultural aspects of Barcelona, I limited this post the museums visited.
The first museum I went to was the Museu Olimpic de l’esport – The Olympic museum as it seemed appropriate with London 2012 and because I’m on the Wenlock Olympian Society. I must admit when I first went in, I was a bit disappointed. There was a large room with standard museum type walls with lots of information (in 4 languages which was nice to see). However, when I thought I was going to exit, I found there was so much more to explore – several floors worth! The Museum is designed to walk down a ramp with the center showing video of sporting highlights – in other words, they used all space without it being too in your face.
The Museum was dedicated to Olympics as a whole, not just Barcelona history. James Morley who joined myself and Claire Seguret to the museum mentioned how British the tune of the collection seemed. As the modern day Olympics were brought back to life in the UK (little town called Much Wenlock), it wasn’t that surprising.
The exhibitions used unique interpretation and are cleverly displayed which made me interested in sports I really don’t care about. I left wondering how London could possibly top that museum after London 2012.
The conference was held at Museu d’art Contemporani de Barcelona which I managed to visit on the last day. I enjoyed Rita McBride’s exhibition which was about “His sculpture addresses the production of public space and reception of culture through works that recreate elements from our immediate environment.” In other words, his art made you look at space differently. At times you were questioning having so much space dedicated to small art but then you realized – that was the point.
On my last full day in Barcelona, a few of us decided to head to Museu Nacional D’art de Catalunya – well to be honest, I was just following but I am so glad I did.
The MNAC embraces all the arts (sculpture, painting, objets d’art, drawing, engraving, posters, photography and coinage) and has the task of explaining the general history of Catalan art from the Romanesque period to the mid-twentieth century.
In other words, there was A LOT to see. Knowing I would never be able to see all of it, Belinda and I decided to see Modern Art and Gothic Art. The first thing that struck me was the building itself was art. While it looks like it dates back to the 1700s, it was only built in 1929 and first used as National d’art in 1934. However, the amount of detail that went into the architect is testament to the detail that went into the collection.
The Oval Room is a grand space that we walked through to enter the Modern Art section. After catching my breathe at the grandeur of the room, I noticed that it was a used space. Concerts and dances often take place within the art gallery. The community was using the space.
Within the Modern Art section, I must admit I was a bit unsure of what to expect but I was delightfully surprised to find an eclectic array of whimsical and fun art along with deep subject matters. The collection range from Neoclassicism to avant-garde movements to ‘Modernisme and Nouvastisme’.
I immediately fell in love with Xavier Nogués and the story behind the paintings. In 1915 a gallery owner and cultural promoter had a meeting place for artists and intellectuals in which Xavier was asked to decorate the walls of the wine cellar with figures of likeable little drunkards shown satirically immortalizing the human weaknesses.
MNAC has something for everyone. There is also a family friendly feel about the place with family activities prominently displayed at reception.
We left MNDC and headed for Fundacio Joan Miro (meeting up with Juan Cobo). Now here’s a little secret – although everyone and their brother told me I *had* to go see Joan Miro, I really wasn’t bothered. I just found Xavier Nogués – nothing was going to top that.
Was I ever wrong.
Joan Miro was a modern day Da Vinci – his creative talent spanned many mediums. Paintings to sculptures, impressionist to surrealist, ceramics to tapestry, and everything in between – everything was seen in an artists view.
Like any collection, there were pieces I appreciated more than others, but I can honestly say even the pieces I personally didn’t like, I appreciated their value to the art world. Joan Miro Foundation was created by Joan Miro as he wanted Barcelona (his birth place) to have a center for the community to discover art. He donated his own collection to the foundation but it is not just his works on display (although his is the majority). This allows for people who come to the Foundation to see Joan Miro works the ability to discover new artists.
Unfortunately, photos were not allowed within the Foundation, however, they did have an area for you to Tweet and Facebook while you were there. Of course I had a go and loved seeing my Tweet quickly displayed on the screen. This also encouraged me to follow them as they responded to my Tweet almost immediately (I made a comment about photos not allowed).
Joan Miro Foundation has built a contemporary building that fits well within the area and provides gorgeous views from the rooftop. The gift shop was like the collection – quirky, fun and something for everyone.
The last cultural venue I, along with Belinda, managed to see was Basilica de la Sagrada Familia. This is the church that Antoni Gaudi, international architect. Gaudi was commission in 1883 to build Expiatory Church and it took up most of his professional career. It was explained to me the reason the construction still continues today is Gaudi died with no clear directions/instructions and it has taken time for the trustees and experts to determine best approach.
It has always been an expiatory church, which means that since the outset, 130 years ago now, it has been built from donations. Gaudí himself said: “The expiatory church of La Sagrada Família is made by the people and is mirrored in them. It is a work that is in the hands of God and the will of the people.” The building is still going on and could be finished some time in the first third of the 21st century.
The structure is an architectural gem. Every corner, every angle, every inch is art. While the line was too long to go into the church (that in itself would have taken a day), seeing the live art show unfolding was spectacular. Yes, technically it’s still a construction site and yes there are sections were you’re not sure how the pieces are being held on, but they are – and this only makes you appreciate the elaborate mission and the time it has taken and will take to complete.
I can only add photos to help somehow justify the description.
If you’re ever in Barcelona, each one of these museums is worth the visit.