Barcelona small museums: Hidden gems off the beaten path
Going off the beaten path when you are traveling is fun. And exploring a small museum takes you away from the tourist crowds and allows for some moments of discovery and entertainment. Because, yes, you need to cover all the top museums and monuments, but sometimes you want to do something different that stands out from what everyone else is doing. Plus small museums tend to be super-specialized and they are great to connect with personal passions and hobbies and give your vacation that made-for-you touch.
But most of the time, when checking guidebooks we skip the museums section unless it is to pay attention to the top Barcelona art museums such as the Picasso, the Miro or the MNAC, and we don’t take the time to peruse the small font list of other museums in town to find out if there is anything that might be exciting for us despite not being famous… No problem! We’ve done the work for you! Today I invite you to explore the most peculiar Barcelona small museums: I’m sure they’ll surprise you.
These are our favorite little known museums in Barcelona:
Museum of Perfume. Perfume has always been a valuable and exclusive product: even the bottles where it’s kept are considered small treasures. How many bottles of parfum and eau de cologne do you have at home? And don’t you love switching to new essences from time to time, or use that favorite one for that special moment? One of our favorite secret places in Barcelona is this museum, open in 1961 inside a shop in Passeig de Gràcia, where you will learn about the evolution of perfume bottles through history, culture and geography. Over 5000 pieces, from ancient cultures pieces such as Etruscan, Greek, Egyptian, Roman and Arabic, chronologically organized to nowadays trendiest designs, displayed by commercial brand. Visiting this small museum constitutes a cute break from your shopping time in the city center (unless you also want to shop at the store where the museum is located, of course!).
Motorbike Museum. Did you know Barcelona is the second city in motorbikes and scooters in Europe, after Rome? If you are a motor fan, you can’t miss this museum created by the family of Mario Soler, the owner of a motorbike mechanics workshop that dedicated his life to restore and collect vintage motorbikes. They opened first a small museum in his hometown, Basella (Lleida, Spain), and then this one in Barcelona hidden in the backstreets of the Gothic Quarter – surprisingly in a pedestrian area. In its over 1600 m2 of space you’ll be able to admire over 70 Spanish and international bike brands from 1902 to 2006, including prototypes and other unique elements. Definitely a must if you are traveling with young boys or motor-lovers in general!
Egiptian Museum. Who would have told you that in Barcelona you could see mommies and learn about the Pharaohs of Egypt? Jordi Clos is a local gentleman passionate of archaeology, specially Egiptian, who decided to create a Foundation to open this museum with the aim of sharing his love and promoting it. The two floors of the museum offer a beautiful display of items, many of them related to funerary traditions and religion, but also every-day objects such as tableware, furniture, jewelry, cosmetics… or erotic figurines! Except for these last ones, of course, the rest is a collection that will surely fascinate your kids.
Hemp Museum. If you are looking for really alternative things to do in Barcelona, you might want to consider this unusual museum located in Palau Mornau, a beautiful modernist building in the Old Town. The museum being a secondary headquarter of the famous Hash Museum of Amsterdam (the oldest in the world dedicated to such theme), in the visit you will learn everything about the Marihuana growing process, the uses of hemp beyond recreation and medicine, as well as the history of prohibitions of this substance around the world. There’s also an extended exhibition of cannabis medical bottles, widely used in medicine in the 1800’s – the golden age of herb medicine. And no: you won’t be able to buy or smoke the drug variety in their gift shop!
Chocolate Museum. Located in the limit of the Born district, this can be a fair trade with your kids in exchange for behaving during a visit to the Picasso Museum nearby. The best part of this small museum is that the entrance ticket is actually a chocolate bar that you can eat. And that instead of a souvenir gift shop there is a chocolate store and café at the exit. The rest is an educational display where you’ll learn everything about how chocolate was invented, from the Inca people before Columbus, how cocoa was introduced in Europe and how the product evolved to become what it is now. They also have a pretty amazing collection of chocolate sculptures or “monas” – in Catalonia kids get them (well, usually smaller ones, lol) on Easter Monday from their godparents, instead of Easter Eggs.
AND BONUS! This is the most weird of all the museums in Barcelona:
Museum of Vintage hearses. At the foot of the Montjuic hill, between the largest cemetery in the city and the industrial harbor, hides one of the best kept secrets in Barcelona: a peculiar collection of hearses used in the city from the 1800’s until to the mechanization of the service. The museum opened in 1970, beside hearses and some vintage cars with mechanical traction, you’ll find curious objects and costumes used in burial ceremonies. Don’t forget to see the stove car, the most popular hearse – but don’t be mistaken by its name: it wasn’t used for cremation at all, but its large glasses that allowed people to see the coffin inside (it was usually destined to carry personalities) reminded people of old fashioned stoves. This museum is only open Saturday and Sunday mornings, but the entrance is for free!
So what about you? Head to the comments below and tells us: what are your favorite small museums in Barcelona?