One of the first tasks undertaken by the Centre for Knowledge and Research, soon after it was founded in 2009, was to ask the firm of Veclus, s.l. to carry out an architectural history study of the five palaces on carrer Moncada that are the current home of the Museu Picasso.
The reason for conducting this study was to understand the significance of the museum’s architectural heritage with a view to making it better known, integrating it into the dynamics of the museum and drawing up guidelines for its conservation.
The research and the report were carried out in two phases during 2009 and 2010. The first phase consisted of a search for documentation in order to reconstruct the history of each of the palaces. This process was based on the materials in the museum’s archives and focused in particular on medieval documents relating to the origins of the properties, modern notarial records and contemporary documentation.
Renaissance door and window of Palau Baró de Castellet | Corbel Course supporting the gallery of Palau Finestres
The second phase, conducted in 2010, was the architectural-historical study of the buildings, and consisted of the following tasks:
- Identifying and assessing the unique or especially significant elements of the buildings
- Determining their state of conservation
- Establishing chronologies and definitive dates for both the structures and the individual elements
- Generating an architectural reconstruction with individual graphic projections of the evolution of each building, from its origins to the present
- Proposing possible strategies for the conservation, restoration and arrangement of the most historically significant elements of each building
With the completion of this process, the museum now has the necessary scientific basis on which to integrate into its discourse and make more widely known the architectural heritage in which it is housed.
In fact, a number of initial steps have already been taken to disseminate the information obtained by the study. For example, last year we introduced the virtual tour of the museum courtyards, allowing a complete 360º view of the different spaces, with the option of zooming in on particular elements and details, some of which are very hard to see in reality! The application also makes it possible to access additional information on the courtyards and some of their most important elements, in terms of their historical or architectural value.
Medieval arch below the stairway of Palau Meca | Lintel over the window with heads and coat of arms of Palau Aguilar
Having completed the necessary but laborious work of selecting and summarizing the information for the virtual tour, when Biblioteques de Barcelona proposed that the museums in the Articket group put together the programme ‘The Museums from Inside’, here at the Museu Picasso we were delighted to make this information available to the local community, and proposed a special guided tour to present it on the spot.
Despite the intense cold we have had this February, the tour was a great success, and the demand was so great that we had to repeat it! Because a lot of people were unable to take part due to lack of space, we have decided to programme a visit in summer to enjoy the courtyards in better weather: a great opportunity to learn not only about these splendid buildings, but also about more than 700 years of the history of Barcelona.
Sílvia Domènech and Anna Guarro