MNAC from Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina
Last Sunday Ruben and I visited the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, or National Art Museum of Catalunya, abbreviated MNAC. The museum is housed in the Palau Nacional (National Palace), built for the 1929 World's Fair. It is situated on the Montjuïc hill not far from Plaça d'Espanya. The building was rehabilitated for the 1992 Summer Olympics. It is a large building and since it sits on a hill, dominates the area.
The MNAC was created in 1990, when the Catalonian Museum Law united the collections of the former Museu d'Art de Catalunya (Catalonian Art Museum) and the Museu d'Art Modern (Modern Art Museum), and declared it the national museum. The new museum also incorporates:
- the Gabinet de Dibuixos i Gravats (Department of Drawings and Prints),
- the Gabinet Numismàtic de Catalunya (Catalonia Department of Numismatics; coinage and medals)
- and the Biblioteca d'Història de l'Art (Art History Library).
In 1996, the Department of Photography was created. Note that contemporary art is displayed at the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art), or MACBA, another museum that I need to visit.
The MNAC opened in 1995, with the Romanesque art section. The Gothic art section was opened on 1997, while the Renaissance, Baroque, XIX century and XX century collections opened on 2000. The official opening, with the building completely rehabilitated and all the collections in place, was in 2004.
The original Museu d'Art de Catalunya was opened on 1934 on the same location as today, but was closed during the Spanish Civil War. It was reopened from 1940 to 1942. On 1945, the Modern Art Museum opened in the Arsenal of the Ciutadella park.
Since 2004, the MNAC includes works of the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection. The works were previously displayed in the Monastery of Pedralbes but it was decided to move them to improve public exposure. Paintings from between the Gothic and the Rococo periods are shown.
- Romanesque art: This collection contains art from the XI to XIII centuries. The most significant part of this collection are the wall-paintings of Romanesque churches and chapels that have been transferred to the museum.
- Gothic art: Catalan art from the XIII to XV centuries, along with some Italian art.
- Renaissance and Baroque art: Spanish, Italian and Flemish art from the XVI to XVIII centuries.
- Modern art: Catalan art from the XIX century and the first decades of the XX century, including photography and the decorative arts.
- Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection: A collection of works deposited by the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. It includes pieces from the Renaissance and Baroque. It also includes a collection of Catalan art belonging to the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, from the mid-XIX century to the second half of the XX century.
- Department of Drawings and Prints: collection of drawings, prints and posters from the last XVII century to the historical avant-gardes.
- Photography collection: Photographs from the XIX century to mid-1990s.
- Numismatics collection: Coins, medals and paper money from VI BC to the present day from Catalunya and neighbouring territories.
Since we went on a Sunday, the museum closed at 14:30 instead of 19:00. So we didn’t get to see the Drawings and Prints, Numismatics collection, nor Photography collection. I would really like to see the Photography section, but by the time the museum closed, I had seen enough for one day. I think that I enjoyed the Romanesque section the most as it is rarer than the other art collections. Thanks to Ruben, I was able to get a 30% discount on the entrance fee being “unemployed”. I have to wait a couple more years to get in for free. Audio guides are included.