Museu Europeu d’Art Modern (MEAM)

Barcelona’s Museu Europeu d’Art Modern—in English, more often than not referred to as the European Museum of Modern Art (or MEAM, for short)—is located at the elegantly restored Palau Gomis, squarely in the midst of one of Barcelona’s most vibrant neighborhoods. MEAM is home to a renowned collection of art focused on figurative painting and sculpture from across the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries. In addition to its small but well-regarded permanent collection, the MEAM regularly hosts temporary exhibitions that feature compelling work by a variety of contemporary artists on a wide range of subjects.

History of Museu Europeu d’Art Modern (MEAM)

One of Barcelona’s newer art museums, the Museu Europeu d’Art Modern opened its doors to the public in 2011. The Museu Europeu d’Art Modern is first and foremost notable for one major curatorial decision its directors have made: MEAM does not show “abstract art” of any type. As a result, the focus here is squarely on figurative art; that is, those works of art that—in some way, shape, or form—strive to depict tangible objects in a representational fashion.

The Museu Europeu d’Art Modern is owned and operated by the Fundació de les Arts i les Artistes, an arts organization that promotes the work of contemporary artists specializing in the figurative arts. The MEAM is located within Palau Gomis, the regal former residence of a wealthy eighteenth-century merchant that dates back to 1792. The Fundació de les Arts i les Artistes purchased the property in 2006 to serve as its official headquarters. Nearby attractions include the Picasso Museum, Moco Museum Barcelona, and the Museu de la Xocolata, just to name a few of the many landmarks you’ll find in the vicinity of MEAM.

Museu Europeu d’Art Modern (MEAM) Highlights

The Museu Europeu d’Art Modern’s contemporary realist art collection is made up of over 1,000 paintings created by approximately 300 artists hailing from five different continents. The art on display throughout these galleries is in many ways quite diverse—but the one through-thread connecting the work conceptually is a devotion to representing the human form and objective reality in rich and stimulating ways.

While painting is the art form that often takes top billing at your typical modern art museum, MEAM is especially known for its collection of modern sculpture. The nineteenth and twenty-first centuries are represented within this fine collection, but the bulk of the works date to the twentieth century. You’ll find here a strong selection of French figural sculpture, but the museum is proud of its sculptures by Italian, German, English, and Czech artists, too.

MEAM is also home to a significant collection of twentieth-century Catalan sculpture. The genesis of this collection can be traced back to a major exhibition the MEAM hosted in the spring of 2013, one that brought together some 300 pieces by nearly 100 different Catalan sculptors spanning the Spanish Civil War up until the present day; a number of these sculptures are now owned by the museum. In total, the MEAM’s twentieth-century Catalan sculpture collection comprises approximately 150 artworks in marble, plaster, terracotta, and bronze.

More to See and Do at Museu Europeu d’Art Modern (MEAM)

To get even more out of your upcoming visit to this distinctive art museum, keep reading below.

*No matter when you visit the Museu Europeu d’Art Modern, it’s bound to be hosting one or more temporary exhibitions well worth your time and attention. These special exhibits come and go throughout the year, so what you’ll see is subject to change; still, recent exhibits of note include shows on such subjects as water, contemporary women artists, and the understated beauty of olive trees, 

*If you’ll be visiting Barcelona during the summer months, consider building time into your schedule to take in a concert at the museum. MEAM frequently hosts live music performances on its grounds; you can even purchase a special pass that includes museum admission, the concert, and a drink on the same ticket. For more information, check out the “Activities” webpage on MEAM’s official website.

*If you enjoy your visit to MEAM, you can take home with you a piece of the museum by purchasing a gift or souvenir at the attraction’s small shop. There you’ll find a selection of art books, accessories, and exhibition-themed merchandise for sale.

Why Museu Europeu d’Art Modern (MEAM) Should Be on Your Must-See List

If you’re the sort of museum patron who has ever walked up to a famous work of abstract art, shrugged, and said something to the effect of . . . I don’t get it . . . My kid could scribble that . . . What’s the big deal? . . . well, then the Museu Europeu d’Art Modern is the type of contemporary art museum that’s perfect for you. MEAM’s profound commitment to supporting figuration in the twenty-first century manages to make a classic art form feel fresh and invigorating. Throw in the lavish palatial setting and wall after wall of cutting-edge work by up-and-coming young artists and you’ve got the makings of a powerful contemporary art experience.