The exterior of the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art or Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona

Christopher Barles


Top choice in El Raval

An extraordinary all-white, glass-fronted creation by American architect Richard Meier, opened in 1995, the MACBA has become the city's foremost contemporary art centre, with captivating exhibitions for the serious art lover. The permanent collection is dedicated to Spanish and Catalan art from the second half of the 20th century, with works by Antoni Tàpies, Joan Brossa, Miquel Barceló and Joan Rabascall. International artists, such as Paul Klee, Bruce Nauman, Alexander Calder, John Cage and Jean-Michel Basquiat, are also represented.

The temporary visiting exhibitions are almost always challenging and intriguing. The MACBA philosophy is to do away with the old model of a museum where an artwork is a spectacle and to create a space where art can be viewed critically, so the exhibitions are usually tied in with talks and events. This is food for the brain as well as the eyes.

Outside, the spectacle is as intriguing as inside. While skateboarders dominate the space south of the museum (considered one of Europe’s great skateboard locations), you may well find kids enjoying a game of cricket in Plaça de Joan Coromines.

The library and auditorium stage regular concerts, talks and events, all of which are either reasonably priced or free. The extensive art bookshop is fantastic for both stocking up on art and art theory books, as well as quirky gifts and small design objects, and there's a good cafe-restaurant, Chichalimoná.

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