The MNAC is Barcelona’s largest and most important art museum, containing thousands of works by hundreds of different artists and representing many different historical periods and artistic movements. If you want to get acquainted with Catalan art, it is the place to go.
In this article you will find:
- What makes this art museum so special
- How to get to MNAC
- What to see and what to do at MNAC
- Practical information about tickets and opening hours
- Background information (history, architecture, fun facts)
- Information about the Palau Nacional where the museum is housed
What is the MNAC and why should you visit it?
For art lovers, the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya is a must visit.
You will find the largest collection of Catalan art in the world, and the museum is housed in a beautiful palace. You can spend hours just wandering through its dozens of rooms.
If art is not your thing, it’s still worth going by to see it from the outside and to have a cup of coffee on the plaza in front.
In the evening this is also a great place to see the magic fountain light show.
Plan your visit to the MNAC
If you decide to visit the Museum, make sure you budget plenty of time. You can easily spend upwards of two hours in the museum, and the surrounding area is also interesting and worth seeing.
Tip: you can visit the MNAC for free on certain days. Check the practical information a bit further down for more info about days of free admission, opening times, opening hours and prices.
Because the MNAC is so big, crowding isn’t a problem. For that reason, it doesn’t really matter when you choose to visit, just go when it’s most convenient for you.
The fountain shows takes place at the end of the day, so you can plan you visit to the MNAC at the end of the afternoon in case you would like to combine the two.
You can also combine it with a stroll around the neighbourhood of Poble-sec or the Montjuïc hill.
MNAC Tickets and Prices
If you get your tickets for the MNAC in advance you’ll get a discount over the at-the-door rate.
Children under 16 years of age and adults over 65 always enter for free.
- Basic ticket
With a basic ticket you have access to the museum, the temporary exhibits and the roof terrace. You can buy tickets through our partner Barcelona Turisme and get a 5% discount. Price is €11.40.
The Barcelona ArTicket gives you free access to MNAC any day you choose, as well as entrance to many of Barcelona’s other museums. Price is €30.
- Barcelona Card
The Barcelona Card also includes free access to the museum. Price varies depending on which version of the card you purchase, from €45 to €60.
- Audio guide rental
Important if you want to get the most out of your visit and learn about the interesting works on display. Price is €4, payable at the entrance.
- Temporary exhibits
The MNAC regularly hosts temporary exhibits on many different themes and subjects. You can visit these without seeing the main collection if you want. Price is €6 — €8.
With your Bus Turístic or City Tour Barcelona ticket, you get a 20% discount.
You can also get a €19 combo ticket for MNAC and Poble Espanyol.
- May to Sept: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 am-8 pm; Sunday and public holidays 10 am-3 pm
- Oct to April: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 am-6 pm; Sunday and public holidays 10 am-3 pm
- Closed: Mondays (except public holidays), January 1st, May 1st and December 25th
Visit MNAC for free
Every Saturday from 3pm onwards and the first Sunday of the month (remember the museum closes earlier on Sundays) you can visit the MNAC for free.
There are also special free admission days: February 12th, May 18th, September 11th and September 24th.
How to get to the MNAC?
The MNAC is in the Montjuic area. On foot from the center it takes roughly 45 minutes, so we recommend taking public transport to get there quicker.
- Metro: To get to the MNAC you can take the metro to Plaça d’Espanya (both the green and the red metro lines, L3 and L1). It’s a short walk to the museum, but remember it’s uphill. You can take the escalators if you want.
- Bus: There is a bus stop at the second tower of Plaça Espanya (the Venetian towers). You can take bus 55 or 150, both will drop you off at the parking lot behind the MNAC so you’ll avoid the walk uphill.
- Taxi: You can always take a taxi, the fastest and easiest way to get there. From the city center it will cost you €10 to €12.
- Hop-on hop-off bus: The Red route of the tourist bus also stops at the museum. You can get it from any stop in the city.
- By car: the car park at the museum is free for visitors.
- By bike: Cycling from the center should take you roughly 20 minutes. You can leave your bike at the bike racks on Plaça Espanya, or if you want to ride all the way up to the museum (it’s uphill) there are parking spaces near the entrance too.
You can also take the funicular de Montjüic from metro stop Paral.el (green line). You can use a regular metro ticket for this and in case you also want to visit Poble Espanyol and the Miró Museum, the funicular will bring you close to these as well.
What to see and what do you during your visit at the MNAC?
The museum collection of the MNAC
The MNAC is one of the better art museums in Barcelona. The collection contains no less than 25.000 works, but only a part of it is on display at any given time.
The focus is on Catalan art throughout history and in its many forms — from religious paintings to sculpture and photography.
The romanic frescos from the 11th to the 13th century mostly originated from Catalan mountain villages in the Pyrenees.
They survived the attacks on churches between 1936 and 1939 (Spanish Civil War) because they were moved to the museum before the beginning of the war.
The MNAC’s collection of frescoes is one of the largest and most important of its class in the world.
Besides romanic art, you can see other art movements from the past, like gothic, renaissance, baroque, neoclassicism, romanticism, realism and modern art, including noucentisme and modernism.
The last category contains works from Antoni Gaudí and painter Ramón Casas, among others.
Since 2004, part of the collection of the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid is now housed in the MNAC.
It consists mainly of religious paintings and sculptures of several European artists ranging from the gothic to the rococo.
In the renaissance and baroque sections you’ll find pieces by famous artists such as El Greco, Zurbarán, Velázquez, and Rubens.
The MNAC also owns a large collection of photographs, copper plates, posters and old illustrations from the 19th and 20th century. For example, old editions of Harper’s Bazaar.
If you love ancient artifacts, the museum owns a collection of coins dating as far back as the 6th century BC.
There are also temporarily exhibits, but you’ll need to buy a separate ticket for these.
The Palau Nacional palace
The Palau Nacional was built for the International Exposition of 1929 in Barcelona.
It was celebrated on the Montjuïc and officially opened at the feet of the palace with the magic fountains show, currently a popular tourist attraction.
The palace, built in the neoclassical style and inspired by the Spanish Renaissance, was the main location of the event.
The construction of the national palace at the feet of the Montjuïc started in 1926 and it took three years to finish, right on time for the opening of the Expo.
Architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch was supposed to be in charge, however the military government of Miguel Primo de Rivera gave the project to Enric Català i Català and Pedro Cendiya Oscoz.
According to the dictator they were more capable of giving the building a ‘Spanish’ appearance.
Once inside, make sure to visit the ‘Oval Hall’ (Sala Oval). Here the Exposition was opened officially by king Alfonso XIII and queen Eugenia.
You can also see the hall without an entrance ticket or if you choose to go up to the roof (highly recommended!) you will also be able to see the hall when you come down.
Also very beautiful is the Sala de la Cúpula, next to which you’ll find Óleum, a fancy restaurant with great views of the city that is housed in the old throne room.
The Sala Sert is also worth mentioning. The hall is named after painter Josep María Sert and it displays many of his works.
These once belonged to Sir Philip Sassoon, a prominent British politician, and they were ceded to the museum in the nineteen eighties.
The palace was built in a privileged location. From the restaurant’s terrace in front of the entrance you can enjoy a spectacular view of the city, and it’s even better at night.
The terrace is a wonderful place to watch the magic fountain show. During summer it remains open until midnight.
By the way, there is a second terrace in the museum, on the second floor. It costs two euros visit.
With a regular entrance ticket for the museum, you also have access to the roof terrace. Definitely worth it!
History of the MNAC
- 1934 — Five years after the World Exhibition of 1929, the Palau Nacional became an art museum. It housed mainly art from the middle ages.
- 1990 — The MNAC was officially opened as the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. The collection of the museum was joined with the collection of the Museum of Modern Art.
- 1996 — A department for photography was added to the MNAC.
- 2004 — A part of the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza collection in Madrid was added to the MNAC.
Attractions near the MNAC
There is one other major attraction near the MNAC: