Opened in 1934, the MNAC or Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya is the National Art Museum of Catalonia and offers a journey through 1000 years of Catalan art from the Romanesque period in the 10th century to the Modern Day.
MNAC has four permanent collections featuring Romanesque and Gothic Art, Renaissance and Baroque Art, the Collection of Modern Art, Photographs, Drawings, Engravings and Posters as well as the Catalan Numismatic Department.
The Museum also has an interesting and challenging calendar of temporary and seasonal exhibitions so in my opinion, it's actually almost impossible to get through the whole collection in a single day.
Apart from buying a Single-Day Entrance Ticket to MNAC, you can also purchase a Barcelona Museum Pass or Articket, which offers entry to MNAC and four of the other world-class museums in Barcelona, or if you have a Barcelona Card, you get a discount on many museums and attractions in Barcelona, including MNAC.
Romanesque and Gothic Art
The 10th century collection of Romanesque Art is quite possibly the finest in the world as many of the paintings were retrieved from churches in Pyrenees in the 19th century and have been reassembled in situ.
The Gothic Art collection reflects Catalonia's period of maximum splendour, when Barcelona was the capital of an empire that included territorities in what are now Italy and Greece and even further afield.
Speaking personally, these are my two favourite sections of the museum's collections because they contain so much art that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world and clearly reflect the genesis of Catalonia as a nation.
Renaissance and Baroque Art
From a Catalan view, the Renaissance and to a greater extent the Baroque were not periods of particular glory as Catalonia was coming increasing under Castilian control.
However, there is an excellent selection of Spanish and international painters, including El Greco, Zurbarán, Velázquez and Rubens amongst others, although for many of these artists the works on display in El Prado in Madrid are significantly superior.
Photographs, Drawings, Engravings, Posters and the Catalan Numismatic Department
This is the other important collection at MNAC because it includes exceptional works by mainly Catalan artists in a variety of formats from the latter half of the 19th century and the first few decades of the 20th century.
This period covers the Modernista style for which Barcelona is so famous and the slightly less well-known neoclassical Noucentisme, which followed, and the collection even includes some fantastic examples of Modernista furniture as well as some examples of more avantaguard work from later in the century.
I saw an interview recently with one of Catalonia's best-known art critics, who was praising the new layout and presentation of the section of Modernista Art, so it looks like I'm going to have to pay yet another visit to MNAC some time soon.
Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya
Palau Nacional - Parc de Montjuïc