Archaeology Museum of Catalonia, Barcelona, Spain

The Archaeology Museum of Catalonia in Barcelona (MAC Barcelona) is a museum located in the former Palace of Graphic Arts, within the Parc de Montjuïc. It is one of the headquarters of the Museum of Archeology of Catalonia, and collects a series of archaeological objects and documents that encompass a chronological arch that goes from Prehistory to the Middle Ages, with special incidence. in the old age. A visit to the permanent exhibition and the temporary exhibitions held there help to understand the social, technological, economic and religious evolution not only in Catalonia but also inthe Iberian Peninsula and the Mediterranean. The museum depends on the Ministry of Culture of the Generalitat de Catalunya, which manages it through its Catalan Agency for Cultural Heritage.

The Museum of Archeology of Catalonia (MAC) is a national museum whose objective is the conservation, research and dissemination of archeological remains in Catalonia, which illustrate the different historical periods between prehistory and medieval times. It was created as a result of the Museum Law of 1990 and is a networked museum made up of a series of different sites and sites, spread throughout Catalonia.

The Archeology Museum of Catalonia and exhibiting in the most important archaeological collection in Catalonia. For this reason, the museum and heritage museum Becomes an essential destination to discover the archeology, history and ancient art of the current Catalan territory.

The Museum of Archeology of Catalonia integrates five major facilities museum: the Museum of Archeology of Catalonia in Barcelona, the headquarters of the institution, the Museum of Archeology of Catalonia in Girona, the Greek-Roman city of Empúries in L’Escala; the Iberian citadel of Ullastret in Ullastret; and the Castle and Archeological site of Olèrdola Olèrdola in. In addition, the museum also Manages the Center for Underwater Archeology of Catalonia (CASC), based in Girona, the National Deposits of Archeology, located in Cervera, and the “Iberian Graeca” Research Center, based in Scale.

National reference center in research, conservation and promotion of Catalan archaeological heritage, the Archeology Museum of Catalonia offers visitors a rich and unique services and experiences and cultural museum, Which includes BOTH visits to museums and archaeological sites museïtzats around the country, Such an extensive and varied program of temporary exhibitions and cultural and educational activities complementary Renewed always constantly THROUGHOUT the year. And all this with a single objective: That your visitors can live intense and enriching learning experiences, excitement and enjoyment, and Thusis can begin or renew an intense love story and lasting culture and heritage.

The rooms and offices of the museum are located inside the old Pavilion of Graphic Arts, built during the Barcelona 1929 Universal Exhibition. It was an ephemeral construction, made of low-strength materials, and had to be demolished after the event was over. As in the case of many other buildings in the Exhibition, the Graphic Arts Pavilion was maintained and reused, giving it a new functionality: from 1932, in the middle of the Second Republic, the Generalitat established the Museum of Archeology of Catalonia.

MAC Barcelona guards over 50,000 archeological objects from over 700 different sites. It is a collection formed over the years under the decisive influence of the political, social and economic events of the country.

The collections that were formed came from the recovery work begun in the 17th and 18th centuries, but especially throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. From this period comes the argaric collection that the brothers Enrique and Luis Siret donated to the city of Barcelona on the occasion of the first edition of the Martorell prize in 1887, made up of materials from three sites in the culture of the Argar of the south-eastern peninsula, El Argar, El Oficio and Fuente Álamo.

In 1902 the municipal collections of archeology and reproductions were installed in the Parc de la Ciutadella, and in 1907 a capital body was created, the Barcelona Museum Board, which started and subsidized the excavations Empúries systematically increasing the collections of archeology, as part of the materials were moved to Barcelona, such as the sculpture of the god Asclepi. The Board of Museums has implemented an important policy of acquisitions that have increased the collections of ancient art. In 1907 the Institut d’Estudis Catalans was created, key in the creation of the MAC collections with the together with the first directors of the Archeology Section.

It was now when Pere Bosch i Gimpera reconciled the direction of the section of Greek and Roman Prehistory and Archeology of the old Ciutadella Museum with that of the Archaeological Research Service of the Institut d’Estudis Catalans, of which He has been director since 1915. During this period, the fund grew significantly, especially with material from the Neolithic and Iberian times, with the opening of new rooms dedicated to these periods.

In 1925, Bosch was ceased during the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera. In these moments before the Civil War, the collections from a large number of interventions made by the Institut d’Estudis Catalans, both in Catalonia and other territories, entered the Ciutadella Museum under the direction or collaboration of notable names in Catalan archeology such as Agustí Duran i Sanpere, Josep Pijoan, Josep de Calassanç Serra i Ràfols or Joan Serra i Vilaró among others. Despite the fact that the techniques of excavation, recording and the analytical possibilities of that time did not allow to delve into the context, the work carried out was of great magnitude. Some of the interventions were:

Sant Antoni de Calaceit
The Acut de Capellades coat
Village of the Coll del Moro in Gandesa
Castellet de Banyoles in Tivissa
Castellar Puig in Santa Coloma de Gramenet
The dolmen of the Coll de Su in Pinós

This archeological activity benefited the collections of the museum, in the same way, from the beginning of the 20th century, the need to complete and enrich the archeological collections by acquiring materials to individuals, antique dealers and collectors was evident. Celtiberian materials from the Soria area, such as Quintanas de Gormaz or Uxama, or the Treasury of Visigoth-era Torredonjimeno, became part of the archeological collections.

The Archaeological Museum in Barcelona
In 1932, the Republican Government of Catalonia founded the new Museum of Archeology of Catalonia in the building that it is currently in. On November 3, 1935, it was inaugurated under the direction of Pere Bosch i Gimpera. Former Palace of the Graphic Arts in Montjuïc, a building built after the Barcelona International Exposition of 1929, and later conditioned by the architect Josep Gudiol to turn it into a museum installation. It was the institution in charge of guarding the collections of the old Santa Àgata Museum, those of the Ciutadella Museum, material collected by the Board of Museums and the Institut d ‘, and other collections of private origin.

During the Civil War, the newly inaugurated museum safeguarded its archeological heritage by emptying display cases, storing its pieces in boxes, some of which departed for Geneva or by protecting the bulky pieces such as those with sandbags or brick walls. mosaics of the Circus and the Three Graces. Also, from the beginning of the war, pieces and collections came to the museum for protection, as was the case with the Tivissa treasure.

After the Civil War, the management of the museum was in the hands of the Diputació de Barcelona, which renamed the museum the Barcelona Archeological Museum. His work focused on safeguarding archeological heritage, as collections increased at a slower rate than in previous periods. The prehistoric rooms were completed and in the 60’s the Iberian hall and the monographic rooms dedicated to glass were opened. During the 1970’s, the physicochemical and anthropological laboratories were created, and in the 1980’s the paleoecological one.

Later, in 1995, the Diputación transferred its management to the Generalitat de Catalunya and in this way it became part of the Museum of Archeology of Catalonia. The MAC Barcelona collection was and is enriched by the incorporation of objects and sets from recent excavations and which were transferred on deposit by other Catalan museum institutions or by the Generalitat de Catalunya itself. In this sense stands out the body and hoist of the Lady of the Montanissell Mountains or the wooden tools of the Draga, Banyoles.

Permanent exhibition
Renovated between 2010 and 2013, the permanent exhibition of more than 4,000 square meters shows through texts, audiovisuals, educational resources, images and scenography the highlights of the cultures established in Catalonia and other places of the Iberian and Mediterranean peninsula.

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The Prehistory collection comprises five rooms ranging from Paleolithic cultures to the Iron Age, to the Neolithic. The collection complements the megalithism and culture of the Argar.

The tour begins in the hall of paleolithic cultures with pieces that stand out like the jaw of the Sitges Giant’s Cave dated 53,200 years ago corresponding to a 15-year-old individual, lithic tools with different degrees of work as bifacial of flint and an evocative diorama of the Cave of Altamira. It was the first and longest stage of mankind, dating between 2,500,000 and 10,000 years before our era. It follows the exhibition with the Neolithic with pieces that show the evolution of societies as ceramics and tools for working agriculture, highlighting an oak handle from the archaeological site of La Draga, a bell-shaped vessel from the Cova de la Ventosa in Piera and a funeral complex from the necropolis of the Ravalet to Sant Genís de Vilassar made of callaite. Of particular note are burials such as that of the Lady of the Montanissell Mountains, found in 2004, where, apart from the jewels that make up the funeral complex, the bone remains that appeared are on display. Next, reproductions of different megaliths give way to the time of the metals with bronze pieces, emphasizing the pieces of the necropolis of Agullana, and of iron as those found in the necropolis of Can Piten / Can Sabadell. The culture of the Argar closes the permanent exhibition dedicated to prehistory.

Phoenicians and Greeks
From the space “The Blue Sea” begins the classic cultures that settled in the peninsula from the colonizing action in the most eastern part of the Mediterranean showing Egyptian, Etruscan, Greek and Roman objects.

The Phoenicians settled mainly in the Balearic Islands, the origin of many of the pieces exhibited in this area related to trade and the exchange that took place between Mediterranean cultures. In this way, we will find deposits such as the necropolis of Puig des Molins in Ibiza with Punic, Ebusitan and Punic-Ebusitan pieces, among which a small figure of the god Bes and a decorated representation of the goddess Tanit stand out. IbizaIt was an economic engine, nucleus of navigators, traders and artisans related to the Iberian Peninsula, North Africa and the central Mediterranean until the arrival of the Greeks losing their hegemony. There is a small room showing the prehistory on the islands of Mallorca and Menorca with bronze pieces from the village of Navetas de Son Oms and objects that show the importance of the islands as a commercial center, highlighting a figure of a Greek warrior that was discovered in 1867 in the talayotic complex of Son Gelabert de Dalt in Lloret de Vistalegre and a small figure of the Roman goddess Minerva of the Pleta de Cas Traginer in Santanyí.

Following the route you reach the Empúries room. The Phytoes arrived in the western Mediterranean, following the Phoenician ships, attracted by the legendary riches of the southern peninsula. They founded the Rhode nuclei, the nucleus of artisans and merchants, and Emporion, the small but very active port nucleus. The exhibited pieces show the commercial richness between Empúries and the rest of the Mediterranean with valuable pieces such as the Mirror of the Judgment of Paris of Etruscan origin, different cichlids with mythological scenes such as the G igantomachy with Atena as the protagonist and a stamens in which it is represented. Hector’s death in the context of theTrojan War. One of the most emblematic pieces is the statue of the god Asclepius or Aesculapius, the original of which remained at the Barcelona headquarters until its transfer to the museum in Empúries in 2008.

The Iberian civilization was the result of a process stimulated and influenced by contacts with Phoenicians and Greeks who did develop indigenous populations of the Mediterranean strip and beyond the Pyrenees, between the sixth century and beginning of the second before our era, towards new social, economic, political and cultural models.

The most outstanding piece is the Treasury of Tivissa which was found in 1927 in the Iberian settlement of Castellet de Banyoles with pieces such as motherboards, glasses, bracelets and cups made of silver and gold silver dating to between 250 and 195 years ago. of our age. There are also steles with inscriptions, swords of Celtic tradition, ex votes, with a horse rider standing out, and a nailed skull that was discovered in the Iberian settlement of Puig Castellar in 1904 and dated to the third century BC. it was.

The arrival of the Romans at the end of the s. III before our era, the Romanization of the Iberian Peninsula was launched, a process of adaptation of indigenous communities to a new culture and social and economic organization.

On the first floor are epigraphic pieces related to the founding of the Roman city of Bárcino and some of its illustrious figures, such as Cai Celi, one of the first magistrates to carry out one of the first censuses of the inhabitants of the city, or Luci Minici Natal, winner of a chariot race in Tarraco. There are also mosaics of different types, highlighting the Three Graces Mosaic that was discovered in some works done on the site of the old Convent of Education near the old Royal Palace Minor and the Mosaic of the Circus that was found inside it Palace shortly before its demolition in the 19th century.

More of a sculptural character, the bronze portrait of a Flava Lady discovered in Empúries, which was donated to the museum by Count Güell, the sculpture The Goddess of Paradís Street, made in pentelic marble and which was found in the foundation of the number 5 of the street of the Paradise near the rest of the Temple of Augustus, and the Sarcophagus of Proserpina, from Santa Pola, with relief decoration of the myth of the rapture of Prosèpina. The piece that closes the permanent exhibition on Rome is El Príap d’Hostafrancs, a sculpture that was made with sandstone from Montjuïc and was found in 1848 on a site in the neighborhood of Hostafrancs in Barcelona near the Creu Coberta.

Glass Collection
For more than 4,000 years, glass has been used to meet the most diverse needs. The exhibition consists of glass found in the archaeological excavations of Empúries, Puig des Molins and Mallorca, as well as for purchases, donations and transfers of individuals.

The exposed pieces are divided according to the technique used, molded glass on core, molten glass on convex mold and blown glass. Many of the glass vessels and decorative items come from the eastern Mediterranean, from Rhodes to Palestine. Noteworthy are the balsameres, the ointments, in some of which they found remnants of the product they contained, and vessels. The dating of the pieces goes from the V-IV centuries before our Roman era to the East.

In the early fifth century, the first groups of Germanic peoples cross the Pyrenees after the fall of the Roman Empire. The territory of Catalonia will be part of the Visigoth kingdoms of Toulouse, first in the 5th century, and later of Toledo, in the 6th and 7th centuries.

The Visigoths showroom stands out for the Treasury of Torredonjimeno, which was discovered in 1926 in a fortuitous way, wrapped in fabric and plaster at the Majanos de Marañón de Torredonjimeno estate, in Jaén, and was sold by parts in different museums. The room is completed with belt buckles and clasps showing the changes in clothing and with a large capital, the Byzantine capital of St. Polyeuktos, from a church built in Constantinople that reached the museum from the Church of St. Miquel from Barcelona.

MAC Barcelona also manages a literary collection with a total of 35,560 books and 1,554 periodicals.

Temporary exhibitions
Since its foundation, the Barcelona headquarters of the Museum of Archeology of Catalonia have presented different topics to those included in the permanent exhibition, in order to present other innovative or cross-cutting aspects of archeology. Among the most important exhibitions are:

The splendor of Catalan medieval castles (2018), a compilation of the architectural, military, social and economic evolution of these units, where the objects reflect the everyday life of castles.
Shamans and Spirits. Treasures of the Jade Museum of Costa Rica (2018) showed pieces from the archaeological collection of the Jade Museum and Pre-Columbian Culture, highlighting the historical, social, technological processes and beliefs that pre-Columbian societies developed in order to make objects for everyday and ceremonial use.
The neolithic revolution. La Draga, the village of prodigies (2017) treated the Neolithic from the only lacustrine archeological site on the Iberian Peninsula and one of the oldest and most important in the western Mediterranean.
Heads cut off. Symbols of Power (2015) was a universal concept applied to the Iberian world.
DEMOS. Living in Democracy (2015) was about the concept and evolution of this political system in ancient Greece.
Toilet Stories (2013), a review of the concept of beauty and the evolution of cosmetics in the most prominent cultures of ancient times.
Ötzi. Ice Mummy (2012) stood out for the exceptionality of the finding made in the Alps: the remains and vessels of a man over 5,300 years old.
75 images / 75 years (2010) commemorated the 75 years of the museum through 75 evocative images of the early years.
Rostres de Roma (2009) reviewed some of the most important personalities in the Roman Empire, represented by sarcophagi, busts and statues.
With L’Esculapi: Return of the God (2007), he presented the restoration of the emblematic statue of Emporitana, to which his arms had been restored, and dismissed him from the city of Barcelona, where he spent a hundred years.
Reflections of Apollo. Sport and archeology in the ancient Mediterranean (2006) showed the importance of sport in its religious, political and social aspects.
With Pentinar la mort (2005), the museum dealt with the rituals of life and death during prehistory in Menorca.
The fragility in time. Glass in ancient times (2005), where techniques, objects and materials linked to the production of glass were appreciated.
Torredonjimeno. Treasure, monarchy and liturgy (2003) emphasized the importance of the find and its history.