Quirky museums

Explore weird and wonderful museums in Barcelona with our guide

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Museu de cera

Museu de cera

You've done the Picasso, the Miró and the MACBA. After these and other giants of contemporary art, what's left in Barcelona's museum bag? Off the beaten track, down cobbled side streets and even smack bang in the middle of touristy areas, you'll find plenty of weird and wonderful little-known gems - all well worth an hour of your time.

Museu El Rei de la Màgia

This collector's gallery of 19th- and 20th-century tricks and posters from the magic shop El Rei de la Màgia will enchant any budding magicians. To see some live sleight of hand, book for the shows; places are limited. They're not in English, but they are very visual, so it doesn't matter too much.

  1. 6, de l'Oli
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Museu del Perfum

In the back room of the Regia perfumery sit some 5,000 scent bottles, cosmetic flasks and related objects. The collection is divided in two. One displays all manner of unguent vases and essence jars in chronological order, from a tube of black eye make-up from pre-dynastic Egypt to Edwardian atomisers and a prized double-flask pouch that belonged to Marie Antoinette. The second section exhibits perfumes from brands such as Guerlain and Dior; some are in rare bottles, among them a garish Dalí creation for Schiaparelli and a set of golliwog flasks by Vigny Paris. The museum's most recent additions include a collection of 19th-century perfumed powder bottles and boxes.

  1. 39, Pg. de Gràcia, 08007
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Museu de l'Eròtica

Despite being a condom's toss from the red-light district, the Erotic Museum is a surprisingly limp affair. Expect plenty of filler in the form of Kama Sutra illustrations and airbrushed paintings of naked maidens, with the odd fascinating item such as studded chastity belts or a Victorian walking stick topped with an ivory vagina. Genuine rarities include Japanese drawings, a painful-looking 'pleasure chair' and compelling photos of brothels in the city's Barrio Chino in the decadent 1930s.

  1. La Rambla, 96, Ciutat Vella
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Museu de Cera

Madame Tussauds it ain't, but the Wax Museum is an enjoyable enough way to pass a rainy afternoon, particuarly if you have small children, who love the 'underwater' section (a submarine and creaky old ship). Be warned that the exhibits are very dated, and a curious mix of historical and 1980s (19th-century composers alongside ET, Star Wars characters, JR from Dallas and Lady Di).

  1. 7, Ptge de la Banca
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Museu de Carrosses Fúnebres

Visiting what must be the most obscure museum in Barcelona hasn't got any easier. You'll need to ask at the reception desk of the Ajuntament's funeral service and, eventually, a security guard will take you down to a perfectly silent and splendidly shuddersome basement housing the world's largest collection of funeral carriages and hearses, dating from the 18th century through to the 1950s. There are ornate Baroque carriages and more functional berlins and landaus, and a wonderful '50s silver Buick. The white carriages were designed for children and virgins; there's a windowless black-velour mourning carriage for the forlorn mistress, ensuring both her presence and anonymity. The vehicles are manned by ghoulish dummies dressed in period gear whose eyes follow you around the room, making you glad of that security guard. The museum is supposed to be moving to the cemetery on Montjuïc some day, although progress is, naturally, funereal.

  1. 2, C/Sancho de Avila, 08018
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Museu de la Moto de Barcelona

There is no rational explanation for motorbike frenzy. Or is there? See for yourself in the former Sen Felipe Neri convent, where, among the arches and calcified walls is a display of motorbikes that have become practically venerated relics. The Motorbike Museum has as part of its exhibition part of the collection that belonged to restaurateur Mario Soler; and there is no lack of classics such as Montesa, Bultaco, OSSA and Derbi, along with centenarians like the Villalbí.

  1. Carrer de la Palla, 10, Ciutat Vella, 08002
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