As I don’t specifically remember from childhood, Barcelona hosted the 1992 Summer Olympic Games. Not too far from our apartment, the main set of venues and park are still in use. It was all built on a grand scale with wide lawns and walkways, now good picnic spots.
Next door to the Olympic Park are the grounds of the 1929 International Exposition. The Palau Nacional, which now houses the Museu Nacional d’Arte de Catalunya (MNAC), was built as a temporary structure to house a portion of the Exposition. It was too beautiful to tear down afterward, so it was remodeled and made into the museum’s permanent home. The large fountains in front were built at the same time, and given the same reprieve.
Many museums don’t let visitors to take pictures. However, the MNAC does allow non-flash photography, so here are some arts to make up for everything else we’ve seen but haven’t been able to share. My camera doesn’t take the best images in the lower, painting-preserving lighting; it was more vivid in person.
The museum was massive; with the time we had courtesy of an entrance-fee-free Saturday afternoon, we saw less than half of the collection. Fortunately, we will be in Barcelona for several more weeks, and will be returning.
We wandered through the Medieval section first, taking in paintings and sculpture from the 1200s and gradually moving forward in time to the 1700s. Almost all the pieces were based on the lives of Catholic Saints and the Bible. Only during the latter stages of the Renaissance did ordinary people and scenes from daily life appear. And by that time, the excessive use of gold leaf tapers off as well.
Wrapping up the Renaissance and then skipping ahead several generations to the early 1900s, there is a noticeably wider variety of subjects, most taken from daily life. There were furniture pieces by Gaudi and his followers and paintings depicting quiet moments in the home or countryside. It feels much more relatable.
Leaving the museum about 6 pm, there were hundreds of people enjoying the view from the terraces. Hawkers tried to sell cheap trinkets, two small stands sold wine and snacks, and lots of people took selfies. Staircases lead down to the Venetian Towers and a pre-marathon pasta dinner was finishing up with runners for Sunday’s race trying to carboload.