Picasso’s lifelong ally and his former secretary, Jaume Sabartés, cherished an idea to showcase the artist’s best works for some years and finally in 1963 gorgeous medieval palace on Carrer Montcada – Palau Aguilar – was opened to public as the Sabartés Collection. Even though the presented 574 works were indeed a part of the creator’s private collection, the name was chosen merely to avoid any political confrontation – Picasso was in strong opposition to Franco’s regime, and a museum bearing artist’s name was not welcomed under Franco’s rule.
The first collection also included works Picasso himself donated to the city of Barcelona, and other items which were previously gifted to his friends and colleagues: engravings, posters, academic paintings, etc. In 1970 Picasso himself enriched the exhibition with over 900 miscellaneous works, including the famous paintings form the Período Azul (so-called “blue” period – when the artists produced some of his dreariest paintings, with prevailing shades of blue and green). Before too long the collection expanded to the point, it could no longer fit on the walls in Palau Aguilar – and Palau del Baró de Castellet, historically annexed to the original location, had become a part of the museum’s headquarters.
Over the years the museum never ceased to grow – today it houses almost 4.500 works by the artist’s hand. It is one of the largest collections of Picasso; and one of the 40 most visited art museums in the entire world.
A must-visit for passionate art lovers, this is also a spectacular location to admire medieval architecture. It took five luxurious mansions to place all of those precious art pieces; each of these mansions at some point was in the possession of the noblest Catalan families. Palau Meca, Casa Mauri were added years later, in 1982 and 1999 accordingly; while Palau Finestres is used to hold temporary exhibitions. Before becoming a part of Museu Picasso they were all revamped; although original Gothic designs, dating back to the 13th century, remain the same – only now they shine much brighter.
The only thing which might a bit sadden your visit is a large queue waiting at the entrance. But don’t freak out too easily – it passes rather quickly and just as you step inside, ample spaces of former medieval residences do not allow any crowding whatsoever.
Metro: Arc de Triomf (line 1), Liceu (line 3), Jaume I (line 4)
Bus: lines 17, 40, 45, 19, 39, 51, 14, 59, 120