Picasso is arguably one of the most famous artists ever, which is one of the reasons that the Picasso Museum in Barcelona is so popular.  While he may be best known for his cubist paintings, you won’t see these in this museum.  I really enjoyed my visit because it really helped me learn more about Picasso’s life and appreciate what an incredible artist he really is.

Picasso's "Reading at a Table," 1934 Metropolitan Museum of Art - "Barcelona's Picasso Museum: Not What You Would Expect" - Two Traveling Texans
Picasso’s “Reading at a Table,” 1934 Metropolitan Museum of Art

Unfortunately, no photography is allowed inside the museum, so all the pictures in this blog post are Picasso’s work that I have seen at other museums.

The Picasso Museum is located in the El Born area of Barcelona.  We really enjoyed the walk to the museum.  We passed several nice pieces of art on our way.  I didn’t even realize when we arrived at the museum because it just fits in so well in the neighborhood, but then I saw the line to get in and knew I was at the right place.  

I highly recommend buying a ticket in advance to avoid the line.  The advance tickets are for a timed entry so you need to plan ahead.  The museum is open late Thursday evening until 9:30pm and closed on Mondays.  On the first Sunday of the month and every Sunday after 3 pm, the museum is free.  However, I would expect the line to be worse than normal during those times.

Picasso’s Life Story

Picasso's "Woman in White," 1923 Metropolitan Museum of Art - "Barcelona's Picasso Museum: Not What You Would Expect" - Two Traveling Texans
Picasso’s “Woman in White,” 1923 Metropolitan Museum of Art

To fully appreciate the museum, it is a good idea to know a little bit about Picasso’s life.  Picasso was born in Malaga but lived in Barcelona from age 14 to 23.  Then he moved to Paris.  While in Paris, his best friend, Carlos Casagemas, also an artist, committed suicide.  That marked the beginning of the Blue Period, where the dominant color in his paintings reflected his mood.  After four years, he found a steady girlfriend, Fernande Olivier, who helped him see the world through rose-colored glasses and the Rose Period began.  

Then at age 25, Picasso developed the painting style we now call Cubism.  In cubism, the subject is vaguely recognizable, almost like you are seeing it through a kaleidoscope.  After he married his first wife, Olga Kokhlova, and had a son, he entered the Classical Period.  During this time, he painted more realistic people.  People were always Picasso’s favorite subject.

Picasso's "Three Musicians," 1921 from the Philadelphia Museum of Art - "Barcelona's Picasso Museum: Not What You Would Expect" - Two Traveling Texans
Picasso’s “Three Musicians,” 1921 Philadelphia Museum of Art

When the Spanish Civil War ended in 1939, Picasso left his wife and Paris behind to head to the south of France.  During this time, his paintings were sunny, light-hearted and childlike.  He also experimented with collages using all kinds of materials.  These types of pieces may be common now but were quite revolutionary at the time.  His last works have the spirit of someone much younger.  As it is often said about Picasso, “When he was a child, he painted like a man.  When he was old, he painted like a child.”  He definitely lived a fascinating life and I want to learn more about him.  You can see how his life and what he was going through impacted his art.  His life would make a great Lifetime movie.  Antonio Banderas would be my pick to play Picasso.

Artwork in the Picasso Museum

The artwork in the museum is arranged generally in chronological order, with a heavy focus on his early works.  I knew the museum focused on his earlier works but I had no idea that meant paintings from when he was 14! It really surprised me that any 14 year old could paint such realistic portraits.  In the one of his more famous paintings “Science and Charity”, the doctor is modeled after his father.  I really like the perspective trick that Picasso used in this painting.  If you walked back and forth, the bed would shrink and grow.  He featured his father and mother in several other paintings too.

Picasso's "Woman Asleep at a Table", 1936 from the Metropolitan Museum of Art - "Barcelona's Picasso Museum: Not What You Would Expect" - Two Traveling Texans
Picasso’s “Woman Asleep at a Table”, 1936 Metropolitan Museum of Art

The paintings from the Blue and Rose periods really showed his emotions at the time.  The Blue paintings were dramatic and depressing.  The Rose paintings were very sexual.  It was also interesting to see the sculptures of Fernande Olivier, who made such a difference in his life.  I wonder what ever happened between them, you can tell they had a very passionate and intense relationship.   They were together for seven years and apparently 20 years later, she actually wrote several articles for a Belgian paper about it.  Would’t those be interesting to read?

We also really enjoyed the paintings that Picasso did Diego Velazquez’s painting Las Meninas.  Picasso was fascinated with the piece from the 17th century and painted 40 different interpretations, many that are on display at the museum.  Some were black and white, others had bold colors and all were large.  You could see the connection to Velazquez’s painting and also Picasso imagination and creativity.  

The last bit of the Picasso museum holds pieces from his later years.  You really see that he painted like a child.  I love the bold colors and the cheerful subjects.  There were also some beautiful ceramics.

I really enjoyed our time at the Picasso Museum, so if you are in Barcelona, I would definitely recommend planning ahead so you can fit it in your itinerary.  I know there are other Picasso Museums in other cities (Paris for example), that I hope to visit.  Have you been to any of the Picasso Museums? I would love to hear about your experience.


Expert Tips:

  • Buy your tickets in advance to avoid the long line.
  • Unfortunately, photos are not allowed inside the museum.
  • I would plan on spending 2-3 hours at the Picasso Museum.
  • There are several tapas bars close to the museum, we tried Lonja de Tapas, which we really enjoyed.


Disclosure: No financial compensation was received, but the Picasso Museum did provide complimentary tickets.  As always, opinions expressed here are my own.

Barcelona’s Picasso Museum: Not What You Would Expect
Tagged on:                     

24 thoughts on “Barcelona’s Picasso Museum: Not What You Would Expect

  • Barcelona is high on my list of places to return to in the near future and I’ll certainly be adding the Picasso Museum to our list of places to visit, I feel that we missed out on our first trip!

    1. Yes Vicky – you guys will love it. We want to go back to Barcelona too, there is just so much to see!

  • I loved this museum – I wrote about it in my blog post about Barcelona in March. Such a great place to see such a huge range of his works. I hate not being able to take photos though – i’m such a happy snapper!

  • Picasso is one of my favorite artists. I would love to visit this museum someday. Barcelona is a must visit for me in the next couple of years.

    1. Melissa – I love Picasso too and now want to visit some of the other Picasso Museums in Europe. And yes, highly recommend Barcelona, will have more about our time there coming up on the blog so stay tuned!

  • We love Barcelona as it is a beautiful city, but when we were there the Sagrada and the Gothic quarter were on the tops of the list. Of course we had to go to the marina waterfront area for the evening. Too many museums on this trip after France and Italy so we just couldn’t do another.

  • I went to the one in Paris – I didn’t like that you started to see the woman he was moving onto in the paintings before he’d left the old muse…but still great paintings….

    1. Next time in Paris, I definitely want to check it out! He really did lead quite the drama filled life!

  • I loved the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, but it’s been a while since I was there. Your post reminded me of it and of how beautiful Barcelona is.

  • This sounds a great musum and a great place to learn more about Picasso – I had no idea he started painting so young either. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to visit last time I was in Barcelona, but it’s one of the (many!) cities which is on my ‘must go back’ list so I’ll have to remember your tips. #theweeklypostcard

  • I’m off to Barcelona in a few days for the 3rd time but I won’t be able to get to the Picasso museum as I’m accompanying my 10 year old’s class on a school trip and I know the schedule already. Pity as I’d love to go as I’ve recently been to the Picasso museum in Antibes (the first ever museum dedicated solely to his work) and I’d love to compare. (I wrote about my visit, you can read it if interested by putting Picasso in the search box of my blog). #theweekendpostcard

  • It was a very interesting museum! We were able to walk right up and buy tickets …but I was also in Barcelona for Christmas so it wasn’t peak tourist season! #TheWeeklyPostcard

    1. Glad you enjoyed the museum. You are lucky you could just buy tickets, the line I saw at the museum was huge.

    1. Thanks so much Jim. Have you visited any of the other Picasso museums? Would be interested to hear how they are.

    1. Yes there really is so much to do in Barcelona, it is worth a second trip. I want to go back myself. Sounds like you have a great day planned!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *