Opened in 1963, Museu Picasso in Barcelona, Spain was the first museum dedicated to Picasso and the only one created while the artist was alive. Today, the museum is home to one the most extensive Picasso collections anywhere in the world, holding 4,251 works. The art showcased spans the entirety of Picasso’s career, including two of his first major works: The First Communion (1896) and Science and Charity (1897).
Jaume Sabartés, a friend and secretary of Pablo Picasso, is credited with the initial idea of creating a Picasso Museum. Although Sabartés original plan was for a museum in Picasso’s birthplace, Malaga, Picasso himself suggested Barcelona be chosen as the site of the museum as the city was his home during his most formative years. Due to Picasso’s well known opposition to the Franco Regime, the creation of the museum was initially met with a great deal of controversy. Barcelona major Josep Porcioles chose to open the museum despite the heavy opposition from the central government, initially named the Sabartés collection instead of being named after Picasso himself in an effort to reduce dissent.
The collection on display at Museu Picasso today highlight’s Picasso’s relationship with the Barcelona. Originally, the Museum contained works from Sabartés personal collection, art given to the city of Barcelona as gifts, gifts by other artists’, and personal donations made by the artist himself. The majority of the museum’s permanent collection is made up of Picasso’s early art and blue period works, highlighting the time the artist lived in Spain.
The museum itself is a fitting compliment to the unique art it displays. Located in Barcelona’s La Ribera, Museu Picasso is spread among five connecting , Gothic style, medieval palaces from the 13th and 14th centuries. The modern art is juxtaposed with the medieval buildings, showcasing the deep and varied history of Barcelona.
The greatest museums do more than just show us great art; they tell a great story though art. There are a number of outstanding Picasso museums through the world, but what makes Barcelona’s Museu Picasso unique is the complex history of the artist and his home country showcased through the museum’s art.