Traveling through Spain and not sure which museums are worth your time? Then you’re certainly in the right place because this guide all the best and most famous museums in Spain is exactly what you need to read!
From the best Spanish museums dedicated to art to a popular museum on the famous Altamira cave, the best museums in Spain certainly do not disappoint. Several of them rank high on the lists of the world’s best museums, and most are worth a visit even if you need to go out of your way to reach them.
Read on to learn more about the best Spanish museums, and start planning your Spain itinerary accordingly!
The Valencian Institute of Modern Art is the first-ever modern art center that opened in Spain. It officially opened back in 1989 in Valencia, and since then it’s been regarded as a very important center for modern and contemporary art in both Spain and Europe.
This popular museum boasts a collection of some 11,322 artworks from various disciplines, which includes paintings, photography, installations, sculptures, drawings, and other mediums. Its permanent collection is divided into eight distinct themes, each of which focuses on a certain kind of art. Some of the collections at the IVAM include Contemporaneities 1980-2010, Dreamlike Poetics and Dada, Reality and its Chronicles, Julio González & Ignacio Pinazo, and others.
The Picasso Museum is in Barcelona, and it has one of the most extensive collections of Picasso works in the world, making it quite famous. It’s one of the most famous museums in Spain, and it gets more than a million visitors annually!
The museum’s permanent collection includes 4,251 works of art, with the most famous ones being The First Communion and Science and Charity, the two first major artworks by Pablo Picasso.
In addition to the permanent collection, this Barcelona museum also hosts special exhibitions that showcase other works of Pablo Picasso and other artists. The museum occasionally organizes lectures and seminars on Picasso-related subjects.
Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya is one of the best Spanish museums in Barcelona. It’s best known for its spectacular collection of romanesque church paintings, but also Catalan art from the 19th and 20th centuries. The famous museum is situated with Palau Nacional, and it’s one of the largest museums in entire Spain.
The museum’s vast collection manages to trace Catalan art history with a focus on the 19th and 20th centuries, but that’s hardly the only interesting thing in the museum. In addition to the collection of Catalan art, Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya also boasts exhibitions on Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Modern art.
The Dali Theatre-Museum is in Figueres, and it’s undoubtedly one of the top art museums in the country. It is entirely dedicated to Salvador Dali, and the famous artist is even buried in a crypt below the museum.
Dali grew up in Figueres, and the town is where he held one of his first art shows ever. He even had a hand in designing the museum building, along with architects Alexandre Botanerra and Joaquim de Ros i Ramis.
The core of the museum’s artwork collection is Dali’s personal collection of his works, which is precisely what makes it so special. It’s the largest and most diverse collection of Dali’s artworks anywhere in the world, and an absolute must for anyone who enjoys the works of the famous artist.
It’s worth noting that the museum collection isn’t limited to just paintings – visitors can also observe an installation of anamorphic living room, works by other artists such as El Greco and Marcel Duchamp, jewelry, and much more.
The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is a popular museum of modern and contemporary art in Bilbao. This is one of the largest museums in the country, with a permanent exhibition of works by both Spanish and international artists. This includes works by Francesco Clemente, Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, Richard Serra, and many others. The museum also often hosts themed temporary exhibitions, which are usually centered on art from a specific country.
Also, the vast art collection isn’t the only thing that’s popular about the Guggenheim Museum. It’s also famous for its distinct architectural style, which was designed by none other than the famous Canadian-American architect, Frank Gehry. In general, this is one of the most famous and best museums in Spain, and it’s certainly worth a visit if you’re ever in Basque Country.
Museo Nacional del Prado is the most famous museum in Spain. It’s the main museum for Spanish national art, and it is situated in central Madrid. Prado Museum is one of the top 20 museums in the entire world and it’s to Madrid what the Louvre is to Paris.
Prado’s collection is considered the finest collection of European art in the entire world. It includes works of art by famous European artists from the 12th to 20th centuries, as well as the absolute best collection of Spanish art anywhere.
Some of the famous artists whose works are displayed at the national art museum include Francisco Goya, El Greco, Titian, and many others.
The City of Arts and Sciences is a museum complex in Valencia that’s regarded as one of the most important tourist attractions in Spain. The complex features nine buildings, which include everything from a science museum to a huge plaza that hosts concerts and other sporting events.
L’Hemisfèric is pretty much the centerpiece of the complex and the most popular building there. It’s an IMAX cinema, a laserium, and a planetarium all in one, known for its fascinating architecture and exhibits.
Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe is the main museum in the complex. The interactive museum of science is designed to resemble a whale’s skeleton, and it’s absolutely fascinating to observe. It boasts a varied collection, with exhibits on topics that range from Marvel Superheros to sequencing of the human DNA.
Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, or just the Thyssen as it’s often called, is a famous art museum in Madrid. It’s situated very close to the Prado Museum, and it belongs to the city’s Golden Triangle of Art. In addition to the Prado and the Thyssen, the triangle also includes the Reina Sofia national art galleries.
Thyssen’s collection pretty much fills the gaps that are missing in the other two Golden Triangle museums. Its vast collection includes early European art, the Old Masters, Baroque, Renaissance, and Rococo paintings, 18th and 19th-century North American paintings, and much more. Some of the most famous artists featured in this popular Spanish museum include Francisco Goya, Delacroix, Monet, Degas, van Gogh, Munch, Picasso, Magritte, and many others!
Fundació Joan Miró is a famous modern art museum in Barcelona. The museum is entirely dedicated to Joan Miró, and creating the foundation was actually the Catalan artist’s idea. Miró wished to establish a building that would allow and encourage younger artists to experiment with art, and that’s how the idea for the foundation was born.
The collection of this museum was largely donated by the famous artists himself. It includes some of his most famous works, as well as art by other famous artists including Magritte, Rothko, Greenway, and others. Additionally, the Joan Miró Foundation also has a space that is dedicated to promoting works of younger artists, just like Miró wanted.
The Cave of Altamira is a famous cave complex in Santilana del Mar. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, best-known for the parietal cave art that features all sorts of charcoal and polychrome drawings. Most of the drawings in the cave depict local fauna and human hands, and it’s estimated that the earliest cave paintings date way back to the Upper Paleolithic.
Altamira National Museum and Research Centre is a center that is dedicated to research into the history of the fascinating cave. In addition to the research center, the premises are also home to a small museum, which is known for a collection of various objects recovered from the Altamira cave, as well as other Cantabria paleolithic caves. The museum also hosts prehistoric technology workshops, which are a highlight to most visitors.
Another part of the museum’s exhibition is the New Altamira Cave, which is an artificial replica of the original famous cave system. It was created for the purpose of preservation of the original cave since damage did start to arise with an increasing number of visitors.
The National Museum of Roman Art is a popular archeology museum in Merida. It is entirely dedicated to Roman art, with a collection that includes all sorts of materials recovered from Merida’s archaeological ensemble.
The town used to be a Roman colony (Augusta Emerita), and it is one of the largest archeological sites in the entire country. It’s even registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so it’s definitely worth a visit.
Visit this fascinating Spanish museum to see some stunning sculptures, ancient Roman Amphoras, a scale model of the former colony, remnants of an actual Roman road, and more!
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