National Art Museum of Catalonia
The Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, abbreviated as MNAC, is the national museum of Catalan visual art located in Barcelona, Spain.
Situated on Montjuïc hill at the end of Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina, near Pl Espanya, the museum is especially notable for its outstanding collection of romanesque church paintings, and for Catalan art and design from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including modernisme and noucentisme.
The Museum is housed in the Palau Nacional, a huge, Italian-style building dating to 1929. The Palau Nacional, which has housed the Museu d'Art de Catalunya since 1934, was declared a national museum in 1990 under the Museums Law passed by the Catalan Government. That same year, a thorough renovation process was launched to refurbish the site, based on plans drawn up by the architects Gae Aulenti and Enric Steegmann, who were later joined in the undertaking by Josep Benedito.
The Oval Hall was reopened in 1992 on the occasion of the Olympic Games, and the various collections were installed and opened over the period from 1995 (when the Romanesque Art section was reopened) to 2004. The Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (Museu Nacional) was officially inaugurated on 16 December 2004.
The National Palau of Montjuïc, known as Palau Nacional was constructed between 1926 and 1929, with the goal of being the main building of the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition, holding an Exhibition of Spanish Art named El Arte en España (The Art of Spain). More than 5,000 works came to the Exhibition from across Spain.
The Palau Nacional is a huge building (over 50,000 square metres (540,000 sq ft)) which embodies the academic classical style that predominated in constructions for all the universal exhibitions of the period. Its façade is crowned by a great dome inspired by St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City in Rome, flanked by two smaller domes, while four towers modelled on Santiago de Compostela Cathedral stand at the corners of the so-called Sala Oval, or Oval Hall.
This great space (2,300 m2), used as the venue for important civic and cultural events, is encircled by tiered seating, preceded by double columns; it also houses a monumental organ, one of the biggers in Europe, waiting for an important restoration work. Many of the most outstanding painters and sculptors of the day, for the most part followers of the Noucentista aesthetic and cultural movement, were commissioned to decorate the interior of the Palau. Entrance from the front is by a huge staircase leading up from Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina, flanked halfway by magnificent monumental illuminated fountains designed by Carles Buïgas.