Early in his career, Pablo Picasso called Barcelona home. The impact the Catalan capital had on him is visible in much of his work. Years later, in the nineteen sixties, a museum opened in El Born dedicated to his work. It features the most extensive collection of the artist’s work anywhere in the world, focusing especially on works from his lesser-known early years. Nowadays’ the Picasso Museum is one of the most popular in the city. In this article you will find all ins & outs about this highlight.
In this article you will find:
- practical information such as address, opening times and prices
- information about tickets and tours
- how to get to the Picasso Museum?
- Picasso’s special relationship with Barcelona
- More about Picasso, his life and work
- Background information about the museum: its history, architecture, the collection…
Why you should visit the Picasso Museum
The artist Pablo Picasso had a special relationship with Barcelona.
He studied at an art academy in the city, held his first individual shows in Barcelona, and fell in love with the city, its people, and its culture.
It’s only fitting that Barcelona would have a museum dedicated to his work and his life.
Besides being a painter, Picasso was also a prolific sculptor, graphic artist, illustrator and ceramicist.
The Museu Picasso is one of the most visited attractions in the city, popular with art and culture lovers from all over the world.
The three-story museum consists of five adjoining medieval houses in the El Born district, with its collection occupying over 35 rooms.
The collection consists of works from the period 1890-1957.
The area around the Museum is one of the best to wander and take in the city’s atmosphere.
Nearby you’ll find the magnificent gothic Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar, and many interesting boutiques and tapas bars lining the narrow alleys.
There are other Picasso Museums, most notably in Paris and Málaga, but the Barcelona museum holds the most extensive collection of works by the artist in the world.
Visit the Picasso Museum
The Picasso Museum is one of the most popular destinations in Barcelona.
It receives over 1 million visitors a year, which means there are often long lines to buy tickets.
Fortunately, you can skip the line if you buy your tickets online in advance. We recommend you do because if you happen to go on a busy day it can take quite a while to get in.
Once inside, you can store your coat and bags in the cloakroom for free with your ticket.
There are lockers available (paying a 1 euro deposit), but keep in mind they are not big enough to fit suitcases.
The museum is big enough to be wander around for hours. You can expect to spend about two hours to visit the Picasso Museum.
In addition to the permanent collection, temporary exhibitions are also held regularly in the museum.
After visiting the Picasso Museum (or before) you should take the time to explore El Born, as it’s one of Barcelona’s most interesting neighborhoods.
It’s a great place to go for a stroll, eat good food, and visit interesting shops.
There are also two other interesting attractions worth checking out in the area:
Santa Maria del Mar, a beautiful Gothic church that is quite different from the city’s other famous churches, and El Born CCM (Center for Culture and Memory), an archaeological dig that offers a look into the Barcelona of hundreds of years ago.
What is the best time to visit the Picasso Museum?
Predictably, the museum is busiest when entry is free (we’ll get to that in a minute).
It’s tempting to visit with a free ticket but keep in mind the museum will be very crowded.
On regular days there may be a long line but the inside is usually not that crowded because the museum is fairly large. Early in the morning and at the end of the day it is often a bit quieter.
Picasso Museum Tickets and Prices
Because the lines are usually quite long, we recommend that you buy your tickets for the Museu Picasso online in advance. You can rent an audio guide in your preferred language on site.
Children and teenagers up to 18 enter for free.
There are various possibilities:
- Basic entrance ticket
You can buy a skip the line entrance ticket online in advance. The price is €12 for adults and €7 for over 65’s.
- Basic ticket + audio guide
The same as the basic ticket but with an audio guide included. The audio guide is available in Catalan, Spanish, English, French, Italian, German, Russian, Japanese, Chinese (Mandarin) and Korean. There is also an audio guide available for children. The price of the audio guide is €5.
- Picasso Museum entrance + Hop-on hop-off bus
Another option is a combined ticket for the Hop On Hop Off Bus and the Picasso Museum. This includes a ticket for the museum and a ticket for the bus, which is one of the best ways to get around Barcelona and see all the main sights. Price is €42 for adults, €28 for children between 13 and 17, €16 for children between 4 and 12, and free for children under 4.
- Articket: entrance to Barcelona’s 6 most important art museums
Are you planning to visit several art museums in Barcelona? Then we recommend the museum pass Articket. For €30 you will not only have access to the Picasso Museum, but also to the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB), the Fundació Antoni Tàpies, the Fundació Joan Miró, the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC) and the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA).
You can print out your tickets or carry them with you on your smartphone.
- Tuesday to Sunday: 9am — 7 pm (Thursdays: 9 am — 9.30 pm)
- Closed: Mondays, January 1st, May 1st, June 24th, December 25th and 26th
- December 24th and 31st: the museum closes at 2 pm
Visit the Picasso Museum for free
It’s possible to visit the Picasso Museum for free on certain days:
- The first Sunday of the month from 9am to 7pm
- Every Thursday from 6pm to 9.30pm
- Museum night on May 18th and La Mercè on September 24th)
Are you with a group in Barcelona and want to visit the Picasso Museum? Please contact us at email@example.com. We can arrange discounts for groups of 10 to 35 people.
Take a guided tour of the Picasso Museum
Every Sunday morning at 11am you can take a tour through the permanent collection with an English-speaking guide. The tour is free, but you need to buy an entrance ticket in advance.
On Saturday afternoon at 3.30 pm there are guided tours in English through the temporary exhibits.
It works like this:
- Make a reservation for a tour via e-mail for a maximum of six people: firstname.lastname@example.org (there are tours all year except for August).
- Make sure you arrive at least 10 minutes in advance otherwise your spot might be given to people on the waiting list.
- The meeting point is in front of the entrance at #23 “Room Zero” (the Palau Finestres).
To manage the high volume of visitors that come to the Picasso Museum every day, the museum functions with a time slot system.
When booking your tickets, you’ll be asked to choose the time of your visit. Make sure you are at the door on time.
Don’t worry, once you’re inside you can stay as long as you want.
How to get to the Picasso Museum
- Metro: The easiest way to get to the museum is on the metro. The closest metro station is Jaume I on the yellow line (L4). The museum is a 5 minute walk from the station. As an alternative you can go to Arc de Triomf on the red line (L1), which is a little farther away (15 minutes) but the route is quite nice for a walk.
- Walk: If you are in the center of Barcelona (around the Ramblas, Gothic Quarter, La Barceloneta, El Born), you can easily walk to the Museu Picasso. You won’t take more than 20 minutes.
- Cycling: The Picasso Museum is also easy to reach by bike. It’s roughly 5 to 10 minutes away from most places in the city center. Do keep in mind that there are no bike parking facilities at the museum itself, so you’ll have to look for a place nearby.
- Hop-on Hop-off bus: The tourist bus does not enter the narrow streets of El Born. The nearest stops are Pla de Palau and along the Via Laietana. It’s less than a 10 minute walk from either.
- By car: The nearest car parks are on Carrer Princesa, Passeig del Born / Plaça Comercial, Plaça de la Catedral, Avinguda Cambó and Via Laietana. However, you will probably want to avoid driving around El Born as the streets are narrow and crowded.
What to see and do at the Picasso Museum
The collection is spread out over sixteen rooms. Every space shows works from a certain period in Picasso’s life and there are also temporary exhibits.
There is no other museum in the world that comes close to the 4251 works by the artist owned by the Picasso museum, many of which belong to the lesser-known early years of his career (1891-1905).
The star of the collection is a series of 58 paintings of Picasso’s reinterpretation of the famous Las Meninas by Velázquez.
5 works you can’t miss at the museum:
- Science and charity (1897), in room 3
- Las Meninas series (1957), in rooms 12, 13 and 14
- The madman (L’idiot, 1904), in room 8
- The wait (Margot, 1901), in room 7
- Still life (1901), in room 7
One of the most interesting things about the Picasso museum is that it is hosted in 5 adjoining medieval houses.
These date from as early as the thirteenth century and are the Palau Aguilar, Palau Baró de Castellet, Palau Meca, Casa Mauri and Palau Finestres.
Palau translates to palace, and in this context a “palace” refers to a large, urban mansion.
One of the most interesting features of these buildings are their central courtyards, which have the atmosphere of true medieval buildings.
The last major extension to the museum took place in 1999, when the Casa Mauri at number 21 and the Palacio Finestres at number 23 were added.
These two buildings house the temporary exhibits, while the other three are home to the permanent collection.
Like all good museums, the Picasso Museum has a gift shop where you can find all sorts of items related to the artist, his works, and the city of Barcelona.
Personal tip: After visiting the museum, head to Els 4 Gats in the nearby gothic quarter, a café and restaurant that preserves its original decor from the early twentieth century, when illustrious characters such as Picasso, Gaudí, and Ernest Hemingway were patrons of the establishment.
More recently, it appeared in Woody Allen’s film Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
The walls of the restaurant are decorated with pictures of many of its famous patrons, and the menu card was designed by Picasso over 100 years ago. A fantastic place to get a drink or a bite to eat. Address: Carrer Montsó 3.
Also highly recommended is the cava bar El Xampanyet, on the same street as the museum. An old-style Catalan tavern that also serves food.
If you want to go for a full tapas meal after visiting the museum, we recommend you to go to Bar Mundial or Bar del Plà, both fantastic tapas places.
Who was Picasso? Some facts
Pablo Picasso is considered one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.
He also holds the curious honor of having one of the longest names of anyone in his field — his full name was Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso.
Thankfully, he didn’t insist that people use his full name.
In 1895 the family Ruíz-Picasso moved to Barcelona and lived in the building that currently houses the famous restaurant 7 Portes, at the entrance of La Barceloneta.
His father, a teacher at the art academy La Llotja always dreamt of a having an artist’s life, and so he recognized his son’s great talent at an early age.
Pablo was admitted to the academy when he was only 14 years old, but he would never graduate.
A year later, the family moved to nearby Carrer de La Mercè. In a small side street, Carrer de la Plata, you can find a wall painting with a replica of Picasso’s famous work Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.
Right here, the artist had his first atelier, together with Manuel Pallarés.
In this atelier he painted for example Ciencia y Caridad, nowadays exposed at the Picasso Museum.
He was inspired by the death of his beloved little sister Conchita, that died of a severe illness right before moving to Barcelona, when she was only seven.
Her death would remain a lifelong trauma for Picasso.
Conchita does not appear in the painting itself, and he would never paint her apart from a single pencil illustration, shortly before she died.
The illustration is on show in the museum. In 1904 Picasso left to Paris, but he would frequently come back to Barcelona, a city he loved.
Picasso and his turbulent love life
Picasso was notorious for his many, passionate love affairs. He had many relationships in his life, especially with beautiful young women that often were his models.
Every time a new muse appeared, this would show in his paintings, as if his creative energies had been replenished.
It is said that he enjoyed when women fought over him, and that his many infidelities never caused him guilt.
His biggest love of all seems to have been his Dachshund Lump, the only creature allowed to enter his atelier — he wouldn’t let anyone in, not even his own children.
Picasso was a passionate man, and his creative output was deeply connected to his personal life.
Throughout his life, his paintings were often reflections of his convoluted love life, as you’ll see below.
This period began during the time that his best friend, painter and poet Carlos Casagemas committed suicide.
It was a heavy time for Picasso, marked by poverty and misery. Paintings from this era are made with blue, purple, green and black. The figures are sad and angular, vulnerable too.
These are Picasso’s most precious paintings but at the time that he created them nobody wanted to buy them.
At the Picasso Museum paintings from the blue period are part of the permanent collection.
Life starts to treat the artist better, he begins to become known and he meets Fernande Olivier, a very beautiful model.
This passionate love has a huge influence on his work and he begins to paint with soft colors like light blue but most of all pink.
A recurring theme in this period are circus performers, as he was known to visit the circus often with Fernande.
In Paris Picasso visits the Ethnological Museum and is deeply impressed by the primitive African masks and totem figures.
He begins to experiment with these masks and this results in one of his most famous paintings: Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1906).
The subject of this piece was prostitution; close to his first atelier, on Carrer d’Avinyó, there were a lot of brothels.
This painting sets the trend for cubism, an innovative style that he developed together with artist Georges Braque.
Characteristic for cubism is for example the fragmentation of the image and joining of several angles.
It also had a more tight and serious character with thick layers of paint on top of each other.
Cubist works often remind a little of a collage, a technique that Picasso used often.
During World War I, Picasso’s lover Eva Gouel died of throat cancer and he became severely depressed.
Many of his friends, including Georges Braque, were called for military service and Picasso felt lonely and abandoned without them.
In 1917 he started designing theater costumes and sceneries for a Russian ballet company, in Paris.
He began to dig into classical art and painted a lot of works in renaissance and neo-classic style.
He married Olga Khokhlova, a Russian ballet dancer that introduced him to Parisian high society. They had a son together, Paul (by that time he already had a daughter with a previous lover).
After ten years of marriage they separated, but Picasso refused to get an official divorce because under French law Olga would be entitled to half of his possessions. She died of cancer in 1955.
This style would become just as significant as cubism. Picasso painted many surrealistic works and constructions made of iron wire.
In 1927 he meets the 27 years old Marie-Thérèse Walter and begins an affair with her. Shortly afterwards she became pregnant and their daughter Maya was born.
This is what instigated the separation from his then-wife Olga, who left Picasso and moved to the south of France with their son Paul.
About one year later, shortly before the Spanish civil war would break out, he met Dora Maar and decided that Dora and Marie-Thérèse should fight over him.
Dora was already a known photographer but she also painted and often modeled for Picasso. He was fascinated by her ‘sad beauty’.
When Picasso fell in love with another woman and ended the affair with Dora, Dora literally became mad and was even admitted to a mental hospital.
She would never have another romantic relationship until her death in 1997, at the age of 89. She lost herself in the catholic religion — it was said that after Picasso, only God was enough.
Abstract (as of the forties)
This is Picasso’s most known period, and is therefore called the ‘Picasso style’. During these years he tended more and more towards the abstract. He painted a lot of portraits of Dora during this time.
In 1943 he fell desperately in love with Françoise Gilot, who gave him two children: Claude and Paloma.
Years after Gilot had left Picasso, the children fought to carry their father’s last name. This was particularly handy for Paloma, that eventually became a famous fashion designer.
In the fifties he met Jacqueline Roque and they married in 1961. He painted hundreds of portraits of Jacqueline, right up until his death.
During these years, his style became more and more abstract. These paintings have the typical catlike faces and exaggerated necks.
Her dark eyes and high cheek bones are symbols for Picasso’s style.
Over his final years, Picasso retired from public life but he kept painting until his death in April 1973. He died of a severe pneumonia.
After his death Roque got involved in a complex legal battle with Picasso’s children over the inheritance the world-famous painter had left behind. She committed suicide in 1986.
History of the Picasso Museum
When the museum was opened on March 9th 1963, Spain was in the middle of Franco’s dictatorship.
Picasso had sworn not to set foot on Spanish soil while Franco was ruling the country, that’s why he wasn’t present at the opening of his museum despite being involved in the project
During the Franco years, the museum was called Colección Sabartés, after his good friend Jaume Sabartés, who donated his personal collection to open the museum.
The other works of Picasso came from several other art museums in Barcelona, among others the famous painting El Arlequín and many drawings, prints, lithographs and posters.
In 1970 Picasso donated the entire collection owned by his family, containing no less than 921 works. Among them many oil paintings and drawings that he made as a child and young man.
At the beginning of the eighties, Picasso’s widow Jacqueline Roque donated a number of important works by Picasso, among others ceramics and the painting La Mujer de la Cofia.
Today, the Picasso Museum is housed in five medieval mansions. The last extensive enlargement was in 1999, when Casa Mauri on nr 21 and the Palacio Finestres on nr 23 were added.
Temporary exhibits are held in these two spaces.
In the spring of 2018, the 50th anniversary of Jaume Sabartés’s death, many works from Picasso’s student years and his early time in Paris will be added to the permanent collection of the museum, as well as an interactive hall and images of contemporaries of the artist.
Attractions near the Picasso Museum
There are many attractions near the Picasso Museum: