How do you look after more than 900,000 visitors a year? Taking care of Visitor Services at the Museu Picasso

With close to million visitors a year, open to the public 10 hours a day, six days a week, plus evening activities, like all good museums the world over the Museu Picasso has a great team working in what tends to be known as ‘visitor services’.

The fact is that a million visitors a year isn’t all that much compared with the more than eight million who visit the Louvre, but our museum has something of a handicap in terms of its physical structure of five medieval palaces, connected to one another. A wonderfully rich historical heritage and an excellent example of secular Catalan Gothic architecture, with some wonderful details, the place is a bit of a maze, and it isn’t easy to guarantee a smoothly flowing itinerary.

A staff of 100 people per shift makes sure that everything goes as it should. The job requirements include a command of at least one language besides Catalan and Spanish, and a service-oriented approach. Visitors can expect to find this at the museum entrance, at the information desk, when buying their tickets, leaving their bags in the cloakroom, booking tickets online and, of course, in the exhibition rooms: there is a member of staff in every room and corridor whose job is not only to keep an eye on the works but answer questions about the museum or the visit. The entire Visitor Services team is there to welcome you and provide any assistance or information you may need.


A visitor taking out a Museu Picasso Member’s Card. Photo: Ariadna Borràs

This year we have introduced a number of new measures to ensure that your visit is a quality experience, to minimize queues and avoid crowding, because the small size of the rooms means we have to limit the number of people allowed in at any one time in the interests of comfort and the safety of both visitors and artworks. For example, one hour before the Museum opens to the public, we welcome special ‘express’ tours and school groups, and from 9 till 10 a.m. these visitors can enjoy the space and at the same time help reduce numbers during the rest of the day. We also keep a couple of hours free of groups, from 10 a.m. till 12 noon, to enhance the quality of individual visits. In addition, our online advance sales service allows you to reserve your visit to the Museum; and of course the Museu Picasso Member’s Card ensures immediate access without waiting in line for a whole year.

‘Queue’ is a four-letter word in visitor services. The Museu Picasso receives a minimum of 3,000 and a maximum of 6,000 visitors each day, and, as we said, our exhibition rooms are relatively small. Visitors generally have to queue for about 10 minutes, although at exceptionally busy times they may have to wait up to an hour. This usually happens when a number of groups that haven’t booked in advance coincide — often end-of-year trips by Catalan, French and Italian schools. And, as we at the Museum are very much aware, this also causes inconvenience to local residents on charming, historic but narrow old Montcada street. Now, with the measures outlined above, we are beginning to see some improvement, but the queues could be avoided entirely if a majority of people booked their visit in advance and decided to buy tickets online.

So, what about amusing anecdotes? We have plenty, of all shades, to suit all tastes. But let’s leave them for another day — watch this blog.

Deirdre Haughey
Visitor Services

Related link
Planning your visit

Did you have to queue to get into the Picasso? What memorable experiences have you had on visits to others museums? What would you like to find on arriving at the Museu Picasso?

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