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La Mercè 2017: Open doors

During Barcelona's biggest festival, in honour the city's patron saint, loads of musuems, sights and attractions open their doors to welcome you for free!

Museu Picasso
Museu Picasso
By Manuel Pérez |
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Throughout the festival of La Mercè, you've got to get out and enjoy all the goings-on town in celebration of the city's patron saint. One of the most popular things to do is to take advantage of the 'open doors' day offered by many museums and some landmark buildings in Barcelona. We've gathered together a collection along with the timetables of when entrance is free (be careful, they're not all the same!). Some spaces will even be open on Monday September 25, which is a bank holiday.

Museu d'Arqueologia de Catalunya
© Museu d'Arqueologia de Catalunya
Museums, History

Museu d'Arqueologia de Catalunya

icon-location-pin El Poble-sec

Sunday 24, 9.30am-7pm.

The time frame for this archaeology collection starts with the Palaeolithic period, and there are relics of Greek, Punic, Roman and Visigothic colonisers, up to the early Middle Ages. A few galleries are dedicated to the Mallorcan Talayotic cave culture, and there is an exemplary display on the Iberians – the pre-Hellenic, pre-Roman inhabitants of south-eastern Spain. An Iberian skull with a nail driven through it effectively demonstrates a typical method of execution from that time. The display ends with the marvellous, jewel-studded headpiece of a Visigoth king.

Jardi Botanic
© Greg Gladman / Time Out
Attractions

Jardí Botànic

icon-location-pin Sants - Montjuïc

Sunday 24 & Monday 25, 10am-7pm.

The construction of new access points for the 1992 Olympic Games facilities of the Olympic Games 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 garden's 14 hectares is reminiscent of a great amphitheatre with preserved collections of Mediterranean plants worldwide and magnificent views over the Llobregat delta, the Olympic Ring and part of the metropolitan area of Barcelona.

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Museums, Natural history

Museu Blau

icon-location-pin El Besòs i el Maresme

Sunday 24 & Monday 25, 10am-8pm.

The Museu Blau ('Blue Museum') started in 2011 in the Parc del Fòrum as part of the Natural Science Museum. 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. The museum is made up of installations and spaces that include 'Planet Life,' an exhibition that takes you through the history of life and its co-evolution with Earth; the media library; and the Science Nest, where children up to age six can explore and play with natural materials.

 

Museums, History

Museu de la Música

icon-location-pin Fort Pienc

Sunday 24, 10am-7pm, & Monday 25, 10am-6pm.

Finally rehoused in the Auditori concert hall in 2007 after six years in hibernation, the Music Museum's 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 museum's high note is the world-class collection of 17th-century guitars.

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Museums

Disseny Hub Barcelona-Les Glòries

icon-location-pin Sant Martí

Sunday 24 & Monday 25, 10am-8pm.

This huge monolith, squatting at the side of Plaça de les Glòries has housed the collections from the former museums of clothing, decorative arts and ceramics since it opened in December 2013. It features collections from the Textile and Clothing Museum, the Museum of Decorative Arts, and the Ceramics Museum (including a section on 20th-century ceramics, including many by Miró and Picasso).

Museums, History

Museu d'Història de Catalunya

icon-location-pin La Barceloneta

Sunday 24, 10am-7pm.

The Catalan History Museum offers a virtual chronology of the region's past. There are two floors of text, film, animated models and reproductions of everything from a medieval shoemaker's shop to a 1960s bar. You'll find hands-on activities, such as trying to lift a knight's armour or irrigating lettuces with a Moorish water wheel, and a huge 3D map of Catalonia. Excellent temporary exhibitions typically examine recent aspects of regional politics and history while the huge rooftop café terrace has unbeatable views over the city and marina.

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Museums, Art and design

Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC)

icon-location-pin Sants - Montjuïc

From Tuesday 19 to Saturday 23, if your name is Mercè, you and a guest get free entry to the museum.

The highlight is the Romanesque collection. As art historians realised that scores of solitary tenth-century churches in the Pyrenees were falling into ruin – and with them, extraordinary Romanesque murals that had served to instruct villagers in the basics of the faith – the laborious task was begun of removing the murals from church apses. The display here features 21 mural sections in loose chronological order, including the tremendous 'Crist de Taüll', from the 12th-century church of Sant Climent de Taüll. Even 'graffiti' scratchings (probably by monks) of animals, crosses and labyrinths have been preserved.

Museu Maritim de Barcelona Drassanes
© Maria Dias
Museums, History

Museu Marítim de Barcelona

icon-location-pin El Raval

Sunday 24 & Monday 25, 10am-7.30pm.

Even if you can't tell a caravel from a catamaran, the excellent Maritime Museum 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. In medieval times, the shipyards sat right on the water's edge and were used to dry-dock, repair and build vessels for the royal fleets. The finest of these was Don Juan de Austria's galley, from which he commanded the fleet at Lepanto that defeated the Ottoman navy in 1571: a full-scale replica is the mainstay of the collection.

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Museu Frederic Marès
©Museu Frederic Marès – Guillem F-H
Museums, Art and design

Museu Frederic Marès

icon-location-pin El Gòtic

Sunday 24 & Monday 25, 11am-8pm.

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. In 1944 he donated his collections to the city of Barcelona, and two years later this museum was inaugurated in an area of the old Palau Reial dels Comtes de Barcelona, with the patio. Throughout his life, Marès amassed an extensive collection of Hispanic sculpture, from ancient times to the 19th century, dominated by polychromed carvings.

Museums

Museu Picasso

icon-location-pin Ciutat Vella

Sunday 24, 10am-5pm.

When it opened in 1963, the museum dedicated to Barcelona's favourite adopted son was housed in the Palau Aguilar. Nearly five decades later, 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 artist's work, the Museu Picasso is rather a record of the vital formative years that the young Picasso spent nearby at La Llotja art school (where his father taught), and later hanging out with Catalonia's fin-de-siècle avant-garde. The seamless presentation of Picasso's 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. The pièce de résistance is the complete series of 58 canvases based on Velázquez's famous Las Meninas, donated by Picasso himself.

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