Spanish Art

Spanish Museums: Barcelona: Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona

Spanish Art - Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona

The Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona, which is known as the 'Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona' in the Catalan language, is a Spanish museum and art gallery which contains a selection of works by Catalan, Spanish and International artists. The pieces on display in the museum date from the 1950s to the present day.


The concept of a modern art museum in Barcelona was first thought of by Alexandre Cirici Pellicer, an art critic, in 1959. Along with Cesáreo Rodríguez Aguilera, Cirici formed a group that began collecting pieces of contemporary art which they would use as the starting point for the museum.

More people joined the cause in order to help decide where the museum should be situated. Meanwhile, the original founding group began holding small exhibitions of the works that they had acquired, around twenty-three altogether. In 1963, these exhibitions came to an end due to the stormy politics of the time.

Spanish Art - Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona

In 1985, the Cultural Councillor of the Generalitat, the Catalan local government, picked up where the others had left off. He and many artists in the Catalan cultural sphere revitalised the idea of having a contemporary art gallery in Catalonia. A pact was made which detailed the creation of a group which would be made up of members of the Generalitat and the local council to deal with the issue of the museum. The pact also stated that the museum would be situated in the 'Casa de la Caritat' (Charity House) in Barcelona.

Only a short time later, the whole program was put on a hold after a change in the local government. Fortunately in 1986, the council of Barcelona made the decision that the museum should go ahead and they commissioned the American architect Richard Meier to design the new building in which the museum would be housed. Furthermore, two art critics, Francesc Miralles and Rosa Queralt were contracted to write the mission statement for the museum.

By 1987, the museum's foundation group, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona, also known as MACBA, Foundation, had been established, headed by Leopoldo Rodés. Together with the Generalitat and the Barcelona council, the MACBA Foundation created the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona in 1988. The museum finally opened its doors on the 28th of November 1995.

The Building

The building that contains the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona was designed by Richard Meier. The main style of the building is based on Rationalist architecture and consists in a longitudinal floor plan. Within the centre of the museum, and passing through each floor, is a circular construction which helps to increase the space for the display of pieces of artwork.

Spanish Art - Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona

Meier used a combination of straight and curved lines, copying the Modernist style of architecture from people like Le Corbusier. The binary opposites of interior and exterior are brought together through the use of large windows and skylights.

Opposite the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona you can find the 'Convent dels Àngels' (Convent of Angels) which changed its name to 'Capella MACBA' (MACBA Chapel) in 2006. This building has been converted into another exhibition space and it is free to visit. The chapel is used to show performances of video art.


The Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona displays a number of contemporary pieces of artwork, ranging from the year of 1950. The museum admits that their collection is not meant to be a complete anthology of modern art, but it provides an excellent overview of the styles and elements of the art of the latter half of the 20th Century and beyond.

The majority of the artists represented are from the Catalan region or from Spain as a whole. Some international artists' works are also displayed, but these are mainly a supplement to the main section. One of the most famous artists whose work is on display in the museum is Joan Miró, the Spanish painter and sculptor.

© Spanish Arts 2011