© Ross Brinkerhoff / Fodor’s Travel
This museum focused on the works of famous Spanish artist Pablo Picasso is housed in five adjoining palaces on Carrer Montcada, a street known for Barcelona's most elegant medieval palaces. Picasso spent his key formative years in Barcelona (1895–1904), and this collection, while it does not include a significant number of his best paintings, is particularly strong on his early work. The museum was begun in 1962 on the suggestion of Picasso's crony Jaume Sabartés, and the initial donation was from the Sabartés collection. Later Picasso donated his early works, and in 1981 his widow, Jaqueline Roque, added 141 pieces.
Displays include childhood sketches, works from the artist's Rose and Blue periods, and the famous 1950s Cubist variations on Velázquez's Las Meninas (in Rooms 22–26). The lower-floor sketches, oils, and schoolboy caricatures and drawings from Picasso's early years in La Coruña are perhaps the most fascinating part of the whole museum,
showing the facility the artist seemed to possess almost from the cradle. His La Primera Communión (First Communion), painted at the age of 16, gives an idea of his early accomplishment. On the second floor you see the beginnings of the mature Picasso and his Blue Period in Paris, a time of loneliness, cold, and hunger for the artist.
Diumenges al Picasso (Sundays at the Picasso Museum) offers Sunday morning performances in the museum, ranging from classical music to clowns.
When the museum offers free admission, expect long lines and crowds, so arrive extra early.
For a light Mediterranean meal, the terrace café and restaurant provides a good resting point and breaks up your visit into manageable portions.