NEWLY RENOVATED CATALAN MUSEUM OF ART OPENS World’s Largest Collection of Romanesque Art in Barcelona

BARCELONA, Spain, February 28, 2005 – Now visitors to Barcelona have the opportunity to see 1000 years of art at the National Museum of Catalan Art or Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC) which reopened in mid-December. The museum’s vast collection of 236,000 works – 1,315 on permanent display – constitutes the world’s most extensive in Catalan art spanning Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque to the mid-twentieth century.
Housed in the Palau Nacional, the emblematic building – designed by Carles Buigas for the 1929 International Fair and later renovated by Gae Aulenti, the architect for the Musée d’Orsay – is situated at the highest point of the city on the mountain of Montjuïc. The museum reopened last December after a $160 million renovation. MNAC is near several other cultural institutions: the Fundació Joan Miró, the Museu d’Arqueològia de Catalunya, the Castell de Montjuïc now housing a military museum, the Mies van der Rohe pavilion and Casaramona, a former Art Nouveau factory which is now Caixaforum, a center for cultural events. Nearby are the Poble Espanyol, or Spanish Village, of 116 houses representing architectural styles from all over the country, and the 1992 Olympic Stadium.
Romanesque art was the first medieval artistic movement to spread internationally across Europe and the museum has the world’s greatest display of those works. The most emblematic pieces are the mural paintings which are exceptional and considered unique in the world. Some magnificent 12th century frescos were peeled off the apses of a number of Catalan churches in the Pyrenees and repasted onto replicas of the vaulted ceilings. Wooden altarpieces, stone sculptures and metal and enamel work from the 11th to the 13th centuries are on display. Also impressive is the Gothic collection (13th to 15th centuries) including stone sculptures, wood and ivory carvings, and mural and panel paintings from throughout Spain with Catalan works predominating. The collection shows the apex of Catalonia’s expansion in the context of Mediterranean Europe at that time.
Works by such renowned painters as Berruguete, Cranach, Carracci, Goya, El Greco, Fragonard, Ribera, Rubens, Tiepolo, Velázquez, and Zurbarán can be found in the museum’s Renaissance and Baroque collections. Soon to open are the 22 rooms of 19th and 20th century works – one of the most brilliant periods in the history of Catalan art – which will transport visitors on a journey through Neoclassicism, Romanticism, Realist, Modernisme, Noucentisme, “the generation of 1917” and the Avant-garde. Paintings and sculptures by Damià Campeny, Mariano Fortuny, Ramon Martí Alsina, Santiago Rusiñol, Darío de Regoyas, Joaquim Mir, Joaquim Sunyer and Julio González are being transferred from the Museu d’Art Modern. Additionally, the museum has extensive collections of drawings, prints, posters, photography and coins.
Two exhibitions are on view now: “Masterpieces of Romanesque Art; Sculptures from the Boi Valley” runs through March 28 and has been organized with the Musée de Cluny in Paris. Fifteen 12th century woodcarvings from small churches scattered throughout Catalonia’s western Pyrenees are being presented along with several large mural paintings – several rarely exhibited before. Running through February 2006 is “The Public Image of Rome” which analyzes the iconographic message of Roman coinage from the very first ones issued in the third century B.C. to coins from the 4th century A.D.
The National Museum of Catalan Art (Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, MNAC) is in the Palau Nacional, Parc de Montjuïc and is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 AM to 7 PM and Sundays and public holidays from 10 AM to 2:30 PM. (Closed Mondays.) Admission to the museum is about $10.90, or 8.50 euros. Students, children between 13 and 21 years of age, families (2 adults and one child) and some groups receive a 30% discount. Seniors over 65 and children under 12 are admitted free. Contact the museum for ticket prices for the temporary exhibitions. Visitors to Barcelona can purchase “Articket BCN” for about $21.85, or 17 euros which covers entrance to six cultural institutions including MNAC, Fundació Joan Miró, Centre Cultural Caixa Catalunya , Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Fundació Antoni Tápies and Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona. Go to www.telentrada.com or call 011-34-933-262-946. A one-day Montjuïc Card is available every day except Mondays for $25.70 or 20 euros (children under 12 $12.85, or 10 euros) and allows entrance to all the tourist attractions including transportation to the hill via cable car. Go to www.servicaixa.com or call 011-34-902-33-22-11.
For information about the National Museum of Catalan Art (Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, MNAC) go to www.mnac.es or call 011-34-93-622-03-76, fax: 011-34-93-622-03-74 or email: mnac@mnac.es. For further information about Spain, contact www.okspain.org