The great urban renewal that spread through the city of Barcelona after being awarded the site of the 1992 Olympic Games turned a broad swathe of some of the city’s more blighted areas and neighborhoods into veritable cultural and artistic attractions for both Barcelona natives and the ever-growing number of tourists flocking to the city. One of the neighborhoods which most benefited from this windfall was the Raval, home to MACBA, the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art since 1995, a sleek, contemporary building designed by American architect Richard Meier, one of the greats of 20th and 21st centuries and winner of the Pritzker Prize and the American Institute of Architects’ Gold Medal.
Dedicated to the exhibition of works produced in the second half of the 20th century, this ambitious project, declared of national interest by the Catalan government, was originally imagined in 1953 by Alexandre Cirici-Pellicer, an art critic who founded the Associació d´Artistes Actuals, a Catalan association of contemporary artists.
The idea of creating a contemporary arts museum like the MACBA was brought back in 1985 with the decision to locate a new museum in the Barcelona Casa Caritat, a former almshouse, and a year later, the city mayor, Pasqual Maragall, commissioned the building which now contains the main offices of the MACBA, which opened in 1995.
The entire contemporary arts museum itself spreads out over several buildings encircling the Plaça del Àngels, making for a contrast with the beauty and uniqueness of the older constructions. The main building, with a markedly contemporary look, was designed in 1990, and its construction lasted five years.
Numerous daily exhibitions and activities fill the many halls and buildings of the museum, such as “Desires and Needs”, a new show exhibiting the latest additions to the MACBA collection, presenting 86 new works acquired over the last three years, along with the artwork already included in the permanent collection.
You only need to regularly browse the museum’s website to discover the latest works on display at the museum and choose the exhibition that best suits your fancy. For Barcelona residents and visitors alike, the MACBA and the local neighborhood have become a cultural and artistic ‘must’ of incalculable value.