The Picasso Museum in Barcelona (in Catalan, Museu Picasso de Barcelona) is one of the most important art museums in Spain. Inaugurated in 1963 by Jaume Sabartés i Gual, friend and personal secretary of Pablo Picasso, the art gallery became the world’s first Picasso museum and was the only one founded while the artist was alive.
Nowadays, the Picasso Museum in Barcelona has a collection of more than 4200 works by Pablo Picasso, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, ceramics, and pieces of jewelry. And its location on a historic street in the Ciutat Vella makes the Picasso Museum in Barcelona one of the most visited attractions in the capital of Catalonia!
So, do you want to know more about the Picasso Museum In Barcelona: Best Tips For Visiting In 2023? Keep reading!
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- "Primera Comunió" (Room 2)
- "Ciència i Caritat" (Room 2)
- "L'Espera (Margot)" (Room 7)
- "Natura Morta" (Room 7)
- "La Dona de la Còfia" (Room 8)
- "La Senyora Canals" (Room 8)
- "Arlequí" (Room 9)
- "Las Meninas" (Rooms 12-14)
- "Els Colomins" (Room 15)
- "Pintor Treballant" (Room 16)
- "Jaume Sabartés amb gorgera i barret" (Room B1 or Jaume Sabartés Room)
- Cerâmicas (Room B2)
- 1. Choose the Right Day
- 2. Decide between the Various Types of Tickets
- 3. Plan a Whole Day in the Ciutat Vella
Brief History of the Picasso Museum in Barcelona
Despite being born in Malaga, Pablo Ruiz Picasso lived in Barcelona during his youth, between 1895 and 1904. And even after moving to Paris (and later to the south of France), the artist returned several times to the Catalan capital, to visit family and friends, as well as to donate his works to the City Council of Barcelona.
The long-standing connection that Pablo Picasso had with the city of Barcelona was decisive when Jaume Sabartés proposed the creation of a museum dedicated to his work. Thus, the chosen location was the Palau Aguilar, a Catalan Gothic-style palace, located in the heart of La Ribera – the neighborhood where the artist had lived for those nine years.
When the Picasso Museum in Barcelona opened to the public in 1963, its collection consisted basically of works from the private collection of Jaume Sabartés and others donated by the artist and the city. In reality, at first, the art gallery wasn’t even called the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, but the Col·lecció Sabartés!
Both Jaume Sabartés and Pablo Picasso continued to offer works to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona until their death. These were joined by donations made by Jacqueline Roque (the widow of Pablo Picasso) and by other artists and collectors – which led to the gradual increase in the exhibition space, that today occupies five mansions:
- Palau Aguilar
- Palau del Baró de Castellet
- Palau Meca
- Casa Mauri
- Palau Finestres
What to See at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona
The Picasso Museum in Barcelona is made up of more than two dozen rooms, the vast majority dedicated to the permanent exhibition. And, curiously, the main collection is distributed chronologically and/or thematically, throughout these rooms, corridors, and exhibition spaces:
- Room 1 – 1890-1895
- Room 2 – 1895-1897 Barcelona – Malaga
- Room 3 – 1897 Barcelona; 1897-1898 Madrid; 1898-1899 Horta de Sant Joan
- Rooms 4-5 – 1899-1900 Barcelona
- Rooms 6-7 – 1900-1901 Paris
- Room 8 – 1901-1904 Blue Period; 1905-1906 Pink Period
- Room 9-10 – 1917 Barcelona
- Room 11 – 1920-1939 Engravings
- Rooms 12-14 – 1957 “Las Meninas” (or “The Ladies-in-Waiting”, in English)
- Room 15 – “Els Colomins” (or “The Pigeons”, in English)
- Room 16 – Last Years
- Room B1 – Jaume Sabartés Room
- Room B2 – Ceramic
- Room N – Neoclassical Room
- Rooms A1-A4 – Temporary Exhibitions
“Primera Comunió” (Room 2)
“First Communion” (in Catalan, “Primera Comunió”) is an oil painting on canvas, created between January and March 1896 in the city of Barcelona. The painting was donated to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona by Pablo Picasso himself in 1970.
Pablo Picasso was just 14 years old when he completed this work, his first large-scale painting. At that time, the young artist received instruction from his father (José Ruiz y Blasco, also a painter and drawing teacher), while attending the renowned Escola de la Llotja.
The figures portrayed here are inspired by family members and friends of Pablo Picasso’s family. When the painting was exhibited at the 3rd Exhibition of Fine Arts and Artistic Industries of Barcelona, it received a lot of attention from the local press.
“Ciència i Caritat” (Room 2)
“Science and Charity” (in Catalan, “Ciència i Caritat”) is an oil painting on canvas, painted between January and April 1897 in the city of Barcelona. The painting is considered the true masterpiece of his youth and was donated to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona by Pablo Picasso himself in the year 1970.
“Science and Charity” is the culmination of the academic training of Pablo Picasso, who would later abandon conventional artistic currents – in this case, social realism. The ambitious painting received one of 125 honorable mentions in the 16th Edition of the General Exhibition of Fine Arts in Madrid.
“L’Espera (Margot)” (Room 7)
“The Wait (Margot)” (in Catalan, “L’Espera (Margot)”) is an oil painting on cardboard, created between May and June 1901 in the city of Paris. The painting is a contribution from the Barcelona City Council and arrived at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona in 1963.
In 1901, the art dealer Pere Mañach and the art critic Gustave Coquiot organized an exhibition in the gallery of Ambroise Vollard – the most renowned art dealer of that time.
Pablo Picasso exhibited some drawings and 64 paintings at this event, including “The Wait (Margot)”. Much influenced by Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin, the work depicts a prostitute or a morphine addict.
“Natura Morta” (Room 7)
“Still Nature” (in Catalan, “Natura Morta”) is an oil painting on canvas, painted in 1901 in the city of Paris. Known as the first still life of Pablo Picasso, the painting is a contribution from the Barcelona City Council and arrived at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona in 1963.
Like “The Wait (Margot)”, this work clearly shows Pablo Picasso’s passion for color. And certain details of “Still Life” also reveal inspiration from other artists – such as Henri Matisse’s characteristic lack of perspective or the intense colors used by Paul Cézanne.
“La Dona de la Còfia” (Room 8)
“Woman with a Bonnet” (in Catalan, “La Dona de la Còfia”) is an oil painting on canvas, created in the fall of 1901 in the city of Paris. The painting was donated to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona by Jacqueline Picasso in 1985.
After the suicide of his friend Carles Casagemas, Pablo Picasso began to paint increasingly monochromatic canvases with deep emotional intensity, a reflection of his own pain and sadness.
The so-called “Blue Period” lasted until 1904 and is one of the most relevant in the artist’s life and work. “Woman with a Bonnet” is an example of it, not so much for the blue tones, but more for portraying a “victim of society” – in this case, a woman from Saint-Lazare (a women’s prison and venereal disease hospital, situated near Montmartre).
“La Senyora Canals” (Room 8)
“Madame Canals” (in Catalan, “La Senyora Canals”) is an oil and charcoal painting on canvas, painted in the fall of 1905 in the city of Paris. The painting is a contribution of the Barcelona City Council and arrived at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona in 1963.
This portrait of Benedetta Bianco contrasts with “Woman with a Bonnet”, for its classic features and more serene color palette. It’s also the only copy of the “Pink Period” in the museum’s collection.
This great artistic phase is a direct consequence of the relationship between Pablo Picasso and Fernande Olivier, his first muse and partner. In addition to starting to paint with more carnal and sensual colors, the artist went on to portray the women of his life – or then circus characters!
“Arlequí” (Room 9)
“Harlequin” (in Catalan, “Arlequí”) is an oil painting on canvas, created between June and July 1917 in the city of Barcelona. The painting is a contribution from the Barcelona City Council and arrived at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona in 1963.
This portrait of Léonide Massine was painted at a time when Pablo Picasso produced both Neoclassical and Cubist works. Even so, his preference for circus themes prevails and this “Harlequin” is just one of the many he conceived.
The year 1917 was marked by the premiere and tour of “Parade” by Jean Cocteau, a ballet produced by Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, featuring music by Erik Satie and choreography by Léonide Massine, as well as sets and costumes by Pablo Picasso!
“Las Meninas” (Rooms 12-14)
“The Ladies-in-Waiting” (in Spanish, “Las Meninas”) is a series of 58 oil paintings on canvas, painted between August and December 1957 in the city of Cannes. All these paintings are on display at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, after having been donated by Pablo Picasso himself in 1968.
During his student years, Pablo Picasso had the opportunity to study the great masters of Spanish and European painting. Well, in this series, the personality chosen for 44 of the paintings was Diego Velázquez – or, more precisely, his homonymous masterpiece “The Ladies-in-Waiting” (1656)!
In his process of analysis, reinterpretation, and recreation, Pablo Picasso alternated group scenes with individual portraits of the girls immortalized by Diego Velázquez. And the result is an exhaustive study of form, volume, rhythm, movement, composition, light, and perspective, allowing him to stand out in a period dominated by abstract art.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the set of works “The Ladies-in-Waiting” also includes 9 paintings of pigeons (exhibited in a separate room, named “The Pigeons”), 3 landscapes, and 2 free interpretations (dubbed “The Piano” and “Jacqueline”).
“Els Colomins” (Room 15)
“The Pigeons” (in Catalan, “Els Colomins”) is a group of 9 oil paintings on canvas, created in September 1957 in the city of Cannes. As I mentioned earlier, all the paintings are on display at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, after being donated by Pablo Picasso in 1968.
Between the 6th and 14th of September 1957, Pablo Picasso interrupted his exhaustive study of “The Ladies-in-Waiting”, to focus on the dovecote he had on the balcony of his property in Cannes (a mansion called “Villa La Californie”).
It’s amazing how, in such a short period of time, the artist managed to finish nine different works, where the main characters are pigeons of all types and colors!
“Pintor Treballant” (Room 16)
“Painter Working” (in Catalan, “Pintor Treballant”) is an oil and Ripolin painting on canvas, painted in March 1965 in the town of Mougins. The painting was acquired by the Picasso Museum in Barcelona in 1968.
Throughout his life, Pablo Picasso always gave great importance to the role of the artist in his own artistic conception. And this is quite evident in the dozens of self-portraits he made and in other works in which the creator has special relevance.
However, it was in the last years of his life that Pablo Picasso adopted the artist as his favorite subject and model. At almost 85 years of age, the master develops a much more free and spontaneous style, completely stripped of the complexity that marked many of his previous artistic phases.
“Jaume Sabartés amb gorgera i barret” (Room B1 or Jaume Sabartés Room)
“Jaume Sabartés with Ruff and Hat” (in Catalan, “Jaume Sabartés amb Gorgera i Barret”) is an oil painting on canvas, created in October 1939 in the town of Royan. The painting was donated to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona by Jaume Sabartés in the year 1962.
“Jaume Sabartés with Ruff and Hat” marks the moment when Jaume Sabartés i Gual consolidated his friendship with Pablo Picasso, by becoming his personal secretary and official biographer.
Pablo Picasso painted several portraits of Jaume Sabartés, although almost all of them are associated with different artistic phases. This one is a humorous and ironic portrait, as it was Jaume Sabartés himself who asked to be “transformed” into a member of the court of Philip II of Spain!
Cerâmicas (Room B2)
The Ceramics Room (or Room B2) of the Picasso Museum in Barcelona houses 42 ceramic pieces, 41 of which were donated by Jacqueline Picasso in 1982. Pablo Picasso discovered the art of ceramics and pottery in 1946 and ended up creating more than 3500 pieces and objects, among plates, pitchers, vases, sculptures, etc.!
The themes chosen for his ceramic pieces don’t differ much from those he addressed in his paintings, sculptures, drawings, and engravings: mythological creatures, bullfights, animal shapes (in particular, birds and fish), human faces and figures, idyllic landscapes, among others.
Practical Guide to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona
In my opinion, the easiest way to get to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona is by metro. To do this, just take the L4 line to Jaume I station and then walk less than 300 meters to the museum building. Another option is to choose the L1 line and get off at the Arc de Triomf station. In this case, the walking route is about 900 meters.
1. Choose the Right Day
The Picasso Museum in Barcelona is open from Tuesday to Sunday (including public holidays) from 10 am to 6 pm, with the ticket office closing thirty minutes before closing time. Actually, not many museums are open on Mondays in Barcelona. Some exceptions are the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Maritime Museum, the FC Barcelona Museum, and the Wax Museum.
2. Decide between the Various Types of Tickets
The Picasso Museum in Barcelona offers various types of tickets, depending on the interests of its visitors. For example, the general ticket costs €12 (adults) or €7 (young people from 18 to 25 years old, university students, and seniors over 65), and gives access to both the permanent collection and the temporary exhibitions.
If you just want to visit the temporary exhibition, you can buy a ticket for €6.5 or €4.5. There’s also an audio guide available in the main languages and it costs 5€ – but I found it too time-consuming. Or, you can opt for the “Articket BCN” – a single pass at €35, to the 6 best art museums in Barcelona:
- CCCB: Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (or CCCB – Center of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona)
- Fundació Antoni Tàpies (or Antoni Tàpies Foundation)
- Fundació Joan Miró (or Joan Miró Foundation)
- MACBA – Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (or MACBA – Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona)
- MNAC – Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (or MNAC – National Art Museum of Catalonia)
- Museu Picasso de Barcelona (or Picasso Museum in Barcelona)
TIP: Did you know that entry is free for Barcelona Card holders and young people under 18 years old? In any case, don’t forget to confirm all prices and ticket types on the official website of the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, before making your purchase!
3. Plan a Whole Day in the Ciutat Vella
The Old City (in Catalan, Ciutat Vella) is one of the ten administrative districts in the city of Barcelona, and probably the most important. This is because it comprises the entire historic center of the capital of Catalonia, not to mention the most touristy neighborhoods: El Gòtic, El Raval, La Barceloneta, and Sant Pere, Santa Caterina i la Ribera!
So, why not dedicate a whole day to discovering this historic area of the city of Barcelona, with such a rich cultural heritage? In the vicinity of the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, you can visit dozens of museums, churches, palaces, and other points of interest, such as:
- Arc de Triomf (or Triumphal Arch)
- Basílica de Santa María del Mar (or Basilica of Santa María del Mar)
- Basílica de Santa Maria del Pi (or Basilica of Santa Maria del Pi)
- Catedral de Barcelona (or Barcelona Cathedral)
- Gran Teatre del Liceu (ou Great Theatre of the Lyceum)
- El Born Centre de Cultura i Memòria (or El Born Culture and Memory Center)
- L’Aquàrium de Barcelona (or The Barcelona Aquarium)
- MACBA – Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (or MACBA – Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona)
- Mercat de La Boquería (or La Boquería Market)
- Museu de Cera (or Wax Museum)
- Museu de la Xocolata (or Chocolate Museum)
- Museu d’Història de Catalunya (or Museum of the History of Catalonia)
- Museu Marítim (or Maritime Museum)
- Palau de la Música Catalana (or Palace of Catalan Music)
- Palau Güell (or Güell Palace)
- Parc de la Ciutadella (or Citadel Park)
- Platja de La Barceloneta (or La Barceloneta Beach)
- Platja del Somorrostro (or Somorrostro Beach)
- Platja de Sant Sebastià (or Saint Sebastian Beach)
- Zoo de Barcelona (or Barcelona Zoo)
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What Photography Gear Do I Use?
- Camera Body: Fujifilm X-T4 Mirrorless
- Camera Lens: Fujinon XF 18-55 mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS
- Tripod: Manfrotto Compact Action
- Small Tripod: Manfrotto PIXI Mini
- Smartphone Adaptor: Manfrotto PIXI Clamp
- Memory Card: SanDisk 128GB Extreme PRO SDXC