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'From the world to the museum', Museu del Disseny
Photograph: Museu del Disseny 'From the world to the museum', Museu del Disseny

Free museum Sundays in Barcelona: where to go and when

Get the low-down on which of Barcelona’s best museums invite you in for free on Sundays (and some on other days as well)

By Eugènia Sendra
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Sunday is a great day to spend some time wandering around museums and visiting exhibitions. While the majority of galleries in Barcelona are always free to get in, you may not find that to be the case with museums. Many of Barcelona’s best museums offer free admission on the first Sunday of each month and others invite you in for free every Sunday afternoon. Others still open their doors on special days of the year, such as International Museum Day, and you might find one or two that are open for free on a Saturday or even every day. Never been to the Picasso Museum? Excited to check out contemporary art at the CCCB? Into instruments and can’t wait to admire the collection at the Music Museum? Hang on for a Sunday and you can treat yourself without paying a cent.

RECOMMENDED: Must-see art exhibitions in Barcelona

Catalan National Museum of Art (MNAC)

Museums Art and design Sants - Montjuïc

The National Palace, this noble building dating back to the 1929 World’s Fair, houses the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC) and its collection of works from sculpture, painting and drawings to prints, posters and photography, and with the objective of explaining the importance of Catalan art from the Romanesque period to the mid-20th century. It’s also home to some of the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection.

Admission is free every Saturday from 3pm, and on the first Sunday of every month. Admission is also free Sep 11, as well as on May 18, coinciding with International Museum Day.

Museum of the History of Barcelona

Museums History El Gòtic

Stretching from Plaça del Rei to the Cathedral are some 4,000sq m (43,000sq ft) of subterranean Roman excavations – streets, villas and storage vats for oil and wine, all discovered by accident in the late 1920s when a whole swath of the Gothic Quarter was dug up to make way for the central avenue of Via Laietana. The excavations continued until 1960; today, the labyrinth can be reached via Casa Padellàs, a merchant’s palace dating from 1498, which was laboriously moved from its original location in C/Mercaders to allow the construction of Via Laietana.

Admission is free every Sunday from 3pm and all day the first Sunday of every month. Other free days include Santa Eulàlia feast day (on or around Feb 12), Sep 24 and May 18.

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Barcelona Centre of Contemporary Culture (CCCB)

Museums El Raval

Spains largest cultural centre, the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, was opened in 1994 at the Casa de la Caritat, a former almshouse, built in 1802 on the site of a medieval monastery. The massive façade and part of the courtyard remain from the original building; the rest was rebuilt in dramatic contrast, all tilting glass and steel. The centre features three large exhibition halls with rotating exhibitions; the first dedicated to smaller, lesser-known exhibitions and the other two reserved for larger features. 

Admission is free every Sunday from 3pm to 8pm (limited capacity requires advance booking), and on International Museum Day/Night (on or around May 18) and during the Mercè Festival (on or around Sep 24).

Plaça del DHUB
Plaça del DHUB
© Maria Dias

Design Museum of Barcelona

Museums El Parc i la Llacuna del Poblenou

The Museu del Disseny de Barcelona is home to some 70,000 objects that show the evolution of the decorative arts in design and the works of contemporary artists. The permanent exhibitions feature objects of industrial design and products that illustrate what makes something an everyday item as well as a museum piece; a tour of the decorative arts, from the third century to the mid-20th century; textiles, especially how dresses have sculpted silhouettes throughout history; and paper, with a look at graphic design from the 1940s to the 1980s. The museum also includes a temporary exhibition space, a documentation centre thats open to the public, and an archive dedicated to the collection and preservation of the collections.

Admission is free every Sunday from 3pm to 8pm and all day the first Sunday of every month. 

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Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA)

Museums Art and design El Raval

The MACBA (Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona) is housed in the impressive building by American architect Richard Meier in Plaça dels Àngels in the Raval. Since its inauguration in 1995, the MACBA has transformed itself into a power player on the city’s contemporary art scene. Its bookshop is fantastic for quirky gifts and artist design objects.

The MACBA does not open for free on Sundays, but you can get in for free on Saturdays from 4pm to 8pm. It also has an open day for Santa Eulàlia in February.

Picasso Museum

Museums Ciutat Vella

The permanent collection of some 3,800 pieces has now been spread across five adjoining palaces, two of which are devoted to temporary exhibitions. By no means an overview of the artists work, the Museu Picasso is rather a record of the vital formative years that the young Picasso spent nearby at La Llotja art school. The seamless presentation of Picassos development from 1890 to 1904, from deft pre-adolescent portraits to sketchy landscapes to the intense innovations of his Blue Period, is unbeatable, then it leaps to a gallery of mature Cubist paintings from 1917. 

Admission is free every Thursday from 5pm to 9pm (advance booking is recommended), and the first Sunday of every month, as well as all day May 18 and Sep 24.

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Music Museum

Museums History Fort Pienc

Finally rehoused in the Auditori concert hall in 2007 after six years in hibernation, the Museu de la Músicas collections comprise over 1,600 instruments, displayed like precious jewels in red velvet and glass cases, along with multimedia displays, interactive exhibits and musical paraphernalia. With pieces spanning the ancient world to the modern day, and including instruments from all corners of the world, the museums high note is the world-class collection of 17th-century guitars.

Admission is free the first Sunday of every month, every Sunday from 3pm, every Thursday the museum is open from 6pm to 9pm, and the following dates: May 18, Jun 21, Sep 23 and 24, and Nov 22.

Museu Frederic Marès
Museu Frederic Marès
Olivia Rutherford

Museu Frederic Marès

Museums Art and design El Gòtic

Frederic Marès (1893-1991) ‘collected everything he laid his hands on, from hairbrushes to opera glasses and gargoyles. Unlike most private 19th-century collectors, Marès didn't come from a wealthy family, but spent every penny he earned as a sculptor and art professor on broadening his hoardings. The exhibits here are divided into three main sections: sculpture dating from the Pre-Roman era to the 20th century; the Sentimental Museum, with objects from everyday life; and a room devoted to photography, and Marès’s study and library now filled with sculptures, many of them his own. The patio itself is a treasure.

Admission is free every Sunday from 3pm, and the first Sunday of every month from 11am-8pm, as well as for Santa Eulàlia, Corpus Christi, May 18 and Sep 24.

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Museu Maritim de Barcelona Drassanes
Museu Maritim de Barcelona Drassanes
© Maria Dias

Maritime Museum

Museums History El Raval

Even if you cant tell a caravel from a catamaran, the excellent Museu Marítim de Barcelona is worth a visit, as the soaring arches and vaults of the vast former ‘drassanes (shipyards) represent one the most perfectly preserved examples of civil Gothic architecture in Spain. With the aid of an audio guide, the maps, mastheads, nautical instruments, multimedia displays and models show you how shipbuilding and navigation techniques have developed over the years. Admission also includes the beautiful 1917 ‘Santa Eulàlia schooner docked nearby in the Moll de la Fusta, and the Maritime often has some interesting temporary exhibitions.

Admission is free every Sunday from 3pm, for Santa Eulàlia in February, on May 18, and during the Mercè celebrations in September.

Jardi Botanic
Jardi Botanic
© Greg Gladman / Time Out

Botanical Garden

Attractions Sants - Montjuïc

The construction of new access points for the 1992 Olympic Games facilities favoured the proposal to create a new botanical garden for the city. On Montjuïc, between the castle and the Olympic Stadium, the shape of the Jardí Botànic’s 14 hectares is reminiscent of a great amphitheatre. It boasts preserved collections of Mediterranean plants worldwide and magnificent views over the Llobregat delta, the Olympic Ring and part of the metropolitan area of Barcelona.

Admission is free every Sunday from 3pm and the first Sunday of every month all day, as well as the following dates: Feb 12, May 18 and Sep 24.

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Museum of Natural Sciences

Museums Natural history El Besòs i el Maresme

The Museum of Natural Sciences in the Parc del Fòrum is an open and dynamic space. All 9,000 square metres of it are spread over two floors. At the main entrance you're welcomed by the skeleton of a whale that beached itself on Catalan shores in 1862. Making its debut in 2020 is the Living Terrace, 7,100m2 of flora on the rooftop that’s adapted to the Mediterranean climate and particularly to the proximity to the sea.

Admission is free every Sunday from 3pm and the first Sunday of the month all day, as well as Feb 12, May 18 and Sep 24.

Ethnological Museum and Museum of World Cultures
Ethnological Museum and Museum of World Cultures
Photograph: Facebook Museu Etnològic i de Cultures del Món

Ethnological Museum and Museum of World Cultures

Museums History Barcelona

The Museu Etnològic i de Cultures del Món has its central location in the Lió palace on C/Montcada. The museum focuses on artistic and cultural diversity from different areas of Africa, Asia, the Americas and Oceania. At the Montjuïc headquarters, you'll find more of look at modern society.

Admission is free every Sunday from 3pm and the first Sunday of every month all day.

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El Born Centre Cultural
El Born Centre Cultural
© Irene Fernández

The Born Cultural and Memorial Centre

Attractions Sant Pere, Santa Caterina i la Ribera

El Born Centre de Cultura i Memòria The old Born market has reopened as a cultural center. Inside the iron and glass structure built by Josep Fontserè in 1876 are preserved archaeological remains from 1700 of the district of Vilanova de Mar. You can walk around this area and visit the 'De les pedres a les persones' ('From Stones to People') exhibition and archaeological sites. These are the main attractions of this centre that aims to show how life in the city was before and after the siege of 1713-1714.

Admission into the centre is always free. Admission is free into the two exhibition halls the first Sunday of every month.

Pavelló Barcelona
Pavelló Barcelona
© Elan Fleisher / Time Out

Pavelló Mies Van der Rohe

Museums Sants - Montjuïc

German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe built the Pavelló Alemany (German Pavilion) for the 1929 International Exhibition not as a gallery but as a simple reception space, sparsely furnished with his trademark Barcelona Chair, all in close collaboration with German modernist designer Lilly Reich. The pavilion was a founding monument of modern rationalist architecture, with its flowing floor plan and revolutionary use of materials. 

Admission is free the first Sunday of every month.

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La Virreina Centre de la Imatge
La Virreina Centre de la Imatge
Photograph: Meritxell Arjalaguer

Foto Colectania

Art Photography

Foto Colectania also has a photography collection that includes more than 2,500 works by Spanish and Portuguese photographers from 1950 to the present. It also has a free consultation library and a holding room where they keep their photographic backlog, the Paco Gómez collection (donated by his family in 2001) and part of the John Redón collection.

Admission is free the first Sunday of every month.

La Virreina Image Centre

Museums Art and design El Raval

The programme at La Virreina Centre de la Imatge features photography, audiovisual works, election broadcasts, book publishing, literary festivals, talks, digital documentation and expanded literature in the age of the image, among others. With a mission to explore the notion of the image as knowledge and also as a way of sparking new cultural experiences, La Virreina aims to forge its own identity within the network of spaces in Barcelona, as well as working closely with other centres for visual creation.

Admission is always free.

Combine getting out of town with more art!

Galatea de les esferes
©Salvador Dalí, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, Figueres, 2014

The ten best museum day trips outside Barcelona

Art

Catalonia is a land that is rich in history, culture, and nature. Barcelona, the capital, is a great example of that, but you’re missing out if you don’t venture out and explore all that Catalonia has to offer. Dalí, for example, left a single centre full of surrealism in his native Figueres. The iconic mountain of Montserrat also has one of the most prestigious art galleries in the country, and in Tarragona you can explore ruins and masterpieces left by the Romans and enjoy amazing beaches. Take a break from the city and visit ten of the best museums in must-visit locations throughout Catalonia.

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