Amazing Museums In Barcelona, For Every Art Geekery

Picasso, Miro, Dali — giants of the art world — all once called Barcelona home.

The city is still pumping out artists to the day. Its institutions continue to mount masterpieces for the public to swoon over.

There are a huge variety of museums in Barcelona — cutting edge contemporary spaces, modern art, traditional art, and artist house museums. There’s something for every type of art geekery.

I’ve been to Barcelona several times. This most recent time around, I really scoured all the art museums, not just the Gaudi architecture.

As a result, I can now turn over my guide to the best museums in Barcelona.

Pablo Picasso, Science and Charity, 1897 -- Picasso painted it when he was only 16
Science and Charity, 1897 — Picasso painted it when he was only 16

Best Museums In Barcelona

Picasso Museum

The Picasso Museum is the most popular museum in Barcelona, for sure.

Picasso’s most famous works are in other museums in Spain like the Reina Sofia. But that doesn’t stop people from flooding into this one.

Though Picasso made his career in Paris, he spent his formative years in Barcelona.

You can take a deep dive into Picasso’s early career and discover some of his lesser known creations before he changed the world with his creativity.

The museum spreads across five medieval mansions. Head up the stairs to view the collection, which begins through a door on the right and runs chronologically.

You start with Picasso’s “boy wonder” works, which show that the young artist certainly knew how to draw and paint.

There are also a series of mischievous self portraits, rural landscapes, portraits, and artworks from Paris revealing Picasso’s love of the louche night life.

My favorite pieces were Picasso’s riffs on the Baroque painter Diego Velazquez revered work Les Meninas, which is housed in the Prado Museum in Madrid.

Through a deformed and sometimes Cubist prism, Picasso recreates this classic artwork. He even makes single portraits of each person in the original.

Here’s my complete guide to the Picasso Museum. You’ll definitely want to pre-book a timed entry museum ticket to avoid long lines.



I spent quite a lot of time in MACBA on my last visit to Barcelona because there was torrential rain outside.

It’s housed in a hulking white and glass building designed by Richard Meier, which is especially gorgeous inside with soaring spaces.

MACBA, the Museum of Contemporary Art Barcelona, is one of Barcelona’s edgier museums. You will likely see beer-swigging skateboarders and gutter punks loitering in the courtyard outside.

Inside, you will find ever-changing international exhibitions of cutting edge art. You never know what you’ll see! Most have a focus on present day social issues.

The permanent collection primarily focuses on post-1945 Spanish and Catalonian contemporary art. It includes works spanning various artistic disciplines such as visual arts, performance, dance, film, music.

When I was there, one installation was a blue-toned room. Gold lines jutted down from the ceiling. In an orange cube, you could squeeze yourself orange juice.

This museum isn’t for everyone. You need to like conceptual contemporary art.

>>> Click here to pre-book a ticket

National Museum of Catalan Art
National Museum of Catalan Art


Contemporary art isn’t for everyone. So if you like your art a bit more traditional, head to the National Museum of Catalan Art.

It’s a great one stop shopping museum for an overview of all things Catalan art related.

The main even, in my opinion, is the Romanesque section with gorgeous murals taken from medieval churches in the Pyrenees.

You’ll also find sections on Gothic art, Renaissance art, Baroque art, and modern art.

Ramon Casas and Pere Romeu on a tandem (painted for le Quatre Gats)
Ramon Casas and Pere Romeu on a tandem (painted for le Quatre Gats)

You’ll find artworks by renowned artists such as El Greco, Velazquez, Gaudi, Dali, Picasso, Ramon Casas, and other Spanish masters.

Included in all that is a collection from the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, probably my favorite of all the museums in Madrid.

When you’re done viewing the art, take the elevator or hike up to the rooftop terrace for amazing views. And check out the botanical gardens round the back.

Here’s my complete guide to MNAC. In high season, I recommend pre-booking a skip the line ticket.

La Virreina Image Center

Just off the touristy la Rambla lies a small museum space dedicated to all things contemporary photography.

The museum is thought-provoking, modern, and free. Exhibitions are constantly changing.

They feature photography, audiovisual works, election broadcasts, book publishing, literary festivals, talks, and digital documentation.

Previous displays include retrospective of artists Sophie Calle and Paula Rega and a look at society portraits. The museums also takes on recent history and current events.

Tapies Foundation
Tapies Foundation

Tapies Foundation

The Tapies Foundation in Eixample celebrates local arist Antoini Tapies. He’s a conceptual artist from the post-war period and a contemporary of Picasso.

The museum is housed in a stunning Modernist building, designed by Montaner ,This structure marks the shift from eclectic architecture of the 19th century to the more fluid Art Nouveau style.

The building’s facade is particularly striking, featuring exposed brickwork. It’s topped with an intricate iron sculpture by Tàpies named Chair and Cloud.

This piece, showing a chair emerging from a dense cluster of iron wires, was crafted to add visual height to the structure. It is prominently displayed at the top center of the building.

The museum houses Tapies’ paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints.

The artist’s work is known for its rich textures and incorporation of material like marble, dust, clay, sand, and even rags, reflecting his interest in the tactile experience.

KAWS sculpture outside MOCO
KAWS sculpture outside MOCO

MOCO Museum

The MOCO Museum, which opened its doors in 2021, is a fantastic addition to Barcelona’s art scene.

Situated in a restored Gothic Quarter palace dating back to the 16th century— a location once exclusive to the city’s aristocracy — this museum blends historic grandeur with contemporary art.

Regarded as the city’s most picturesque gallery, MOCO boasts a collection of contemporary masterpieces from celebrated artists like Banksy, Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol, Basquiat, and Dali.

Guillermo Lorca, The Healer 2020
Guillermo Lorca painting

There are also contemporary artworks by David LaChapelle, Hayden Kays, Takashi Murakami, Nick Thomm, and Yago Hortal. There’s an entire room dedicated to a gorgeous work by Chilean artist Guillermo Lorca.

The museum also features engaging immersive digital installations, reminiscent of works by renowned Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.

Though compact, the museum offers a rich visual feast in an exquisite setting. It’s the perfect spot for art lovers to explore and capture moments that are sure to stand out on social media.

When you visit, take your time to soak in the atmosphere and the art — it’s a small gem that promises big experiences.

>>> Click here to pre-book a ticket

Arts Santa Monica
Arts Santa Monica

Arts Santa Monica

This building was once a Renaissance convent. Now, nothing is sacred here.

In the 1980s, Arts Santa Monica set up an interdisciplinary arts center inside.

The space is a platform for young and up-and-coming artists with a different take on things. Exhibitions cover architecture, performing arts, visual arts, music, literature, design, and even gastronomy.

Collective projects blur the lines between art practices and odd ball performances. For example, you could see a medical composition in the style of pop queen Madonna or a performance of feminist text through the medium of dance.

Don’t leave without having a drink at the bar lounge. This is where the center’s podcast is recorded.

facade of Caixa Forum
Caixa Forum

Caixa Forum

The Caixa Forum is a contemporary art museum and cultural center in Barcelona. It’s hosted in a red brick Modernist factory.

The building was designed by architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch and constructed in 1912.

It’s a fantastic place to come for a dose of culture. Exhibits include everything from ancient artifacts to video game art. But the focus is on contemporary art.

silk curtains in the Caixa Forum

There are three impressive spaces for temporary exhibitions. They’re often among the most interesting shows to be found in the city.

Caixa Forum is also home to a neon cloud that Lucio Fontana made for the Triennale di Milano in 1953.

There are even educational spaces to keep little ones busy. In the evening, the museum often hosts talks, concerts, and film screenings in the entrance hall.

facade of Miro Foundatoin

Joan Miró Foundation

Art buffs will want to come worship at this shrine to Barcelona born artist Joan Miró. He was Catalonia’s most famous Surrealist painter and sculptor.

The museum is housed in a striking white concrete building on Montjuic Hill. It’s a gem in its own right.

This is a great place to get up close and personal with Miro’s work.

It’s playful, inventive, and displays a mastery of color and form. It’s fun to fly off into space with him as he meditates on the cosmos.

Miro, The Gold of the Azure, 1967
Miro, The Gold of the Azure, 1967

The core of the collection is on the second floor, with the first floor mostly given over to temporary exhibitions. It’s roughly in chronological order.

My favorite paintings were from the 1960s and 1970s where he paints suns, stars, birds, and women.

You can also step outside on the second floor terrace for a tour of his whimsical sculptures, including Caress of a Bird.

Here’s my complete guide to the Miro Foundation. Click here to pre-book a ticket.

Banksy, Son  of a Syrian Migrant, 2015
Banksy, Son of a Syrian Migrant, 2015

Banksy Museum

I stumbled into the Banksy Museum by accident when I was at MOCO. It just opened in 2020.

Banksy, as you may know, is a mysterious British street artist. He’s a provocateur, known for his graffiti stunts and a tight control over his message of political and social criticism.

His art addresses themes of consumerism, war, surveillance, and justice. His style is subversive and sometimes humorous.

The museum is set up in a way to make you think you’re walking down a street, with the artworks beautifully displayed on large walls.

Over three floors, you’ll see over 130 works by Banksy. You’ll see some of his most iconic works like Girl with the Balloon, Flower Thrower, and Rage.

>>> Click here to pre-book a Banksy Museum ticket

Frederic Mares Museum courtyard
Museu Frederic Mares

Frederic Mares Museum

Imagine stepping back in time through a doorway in the Gothic Quarter and finding yourself surrounded by an eclectic collection spanning centuries of Spanish life.

This is exactly what happens at the Museu Frederic Marès, where history and art mingle in the heart of the city.

The museum is less like a typical gallery and more like an attic packed with treasures, collected by one remarkably curious individual.

Frederic Marès was a passionate sculptor and collector. He dedicated his life to gathering an astonishing array of artifacts.

exhibits at the museum from the Middle Ages

From intricate lace fans to stoic statues and everything in between, Marès’ collection includes not just art, but pieces of everyday life.

The museum is housed in a portion of the Royal Palace of the Counts of Barcelona next to the cathedral.

It displays items in a way that feels as though you’re wandering through the eclectic rooms of a knowledgeable friend.

One of the museum’s highlights is its sculpture collection, showcasing Marès’ own works alongside Romanesque and Gothic pieces.

But it’s the personal collections that may grab your attention — the minutiae of personal adornments like buttons, pipes, and glasses.

glass architecture of CCCB


Adjacent to MACBA, the Center for Contemporary Culture is a cultural center with three exhibitions spaces with ever-changing exhibits.

It was built on a medeival monastery and some parts are preserved. The rest was rebuilt in dashing glass and steel.

In the summer, ravers raise the roof when the center hosts performances for Sonar and Primavera Sound music festivals.

The rest of the year, the curious can check out the exhibitions. They’re pretty out there. You’ll see exhibits on every thing from Bjork to bacteria to TV series.

The museum also has a theater for experimental film and ultra modern VR experiences. Advance booking is a must for those.

wall painting, 4th century, depicting a man on horse
wall painting, 4th century

Barcelona History Museum

If Roman ruins call to you, head to the Barcelona History Museum in Placa dei Dei. The museums houses artifacts from archaeological digs around Barcelona.

The real fun is an underground labyrinth of excavated Roman ruins. You can start with the 10 minute introductory video in the theater at the end of the ground floor.

Then, take the elevator down 65 feet and back 2,000 years. Over glass walkways, you can stroll through the now underground streets of Roman Barcelo.

vessels for storing fish sauce
vessels for storing fish sauce

Emperor Augustus founded the Roman city in 10 B.C. You’ll see churches, areas for laundering and dying garments, a bath complex, and wine making facilities.

After that, stroll through a 7th century Christian church and an 11th century Visigothic archbishop’s palace.

Then head up the ramps to see a pair of high vaulted halls containing displays on medieval Barcelona, including 13th century frescos and an ornate altarpiece.

Museum of Catalan Modernism with a sculpture and stained glass
Museum of Catalan Modernism

Museum of Catalan Modernism

Since the Eixample district hosts the largest concentration of Modernist architecture in Barcelona, it’s an ideal setting for the Museu del Modernisme Català.

Opened in March 2010, this relatively recent museum showcases an impressive collection of Modernist furniture, sculptures, and paintings.

These pieces originate from the private collections of two antique dealers from Barcelona.

Notably, this small museum includes a special room dedicated to Gaudi that displays items he designed for Casa Calvet, Casa Batllo, and La Pedrera.

Before visiting, it’s a good idea to check their website to see if there are any workshops or concerts scheduled.

chocolate making equipment in the Chocolate Museum
Chocolate Museum

Chocolate Museum

The delicious Chocolate Museum is operated by the local confectioner’s guid. It tells the story of chocolate from the Aztecs to Europeans.

It’s a surprisingly serious museum, and there’s good English information.

You can see old chocolate making equipment and fancy audiovisual displays.

But the history lesson is almost an excuse to show off some remarkable elaborate chocolate sculptures.

These edible works of art change every year. They have them like Don Quixote or Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia.

The best thing is that your ticket comes wrapped in a chocolate bar!

The Elephant of Lluc Crusellas
The Elephant of Lluc Crusellas

I hope your’e enjoyed my guide to the best museums in Barcelona. You may find these other Barcelona travel guides useful:

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