What's on • Art exhibitions
Critics' choice • Essential museums
MNAC: Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya
What is it? The National Art Museum of Catalonia, where you can get an excellent overview of Catalan art spanning from the 12th to the 20th centuries.Why go? For the impressive Romanesque collection with 'rescued' 10th-century murals, the fantastic gothic collection, and the uniquely Catalan, Modernista collection. Plus, once you've climbed the steps up to the former castle, you've earned that stunning view of the city below.
MACBA. Museu d'Art Contemporani
What is it? Richard Meier's hulking white behemoth of a museum signified a grand turnaround in the fortunes of the Raval neighbourhood, and still shines as a beacon of modernity outside as well as in.Why go? It houses the city's main collection of contemporary art (which, in this instance means 'post World War I'), and while its permanent holdings focus on Catalan and Spanish artists, temporary exhibitions have a more international flavour. Top tip: Watch out for (or join in with) the skateboarders in the square out front who have made it their second home.
Fundació Antoni Tàpies
What is it? Catalan artist Antoni Tàpies set up this space dedicated to the study and appreciation of contemporary art in 1984. Nowadays it's a cultural centre and museum dedicated to Tàpies's work and life.Why go? To admire the building's tangled crown of aluminium piping and metal netting outside; and inside, works by Tàpies, whose thing in the 1950s was using waste paper, mud and rags as part of his paintings (later he moved up to include the likes of whole pieces of furniture and running water).