Museu del Disseny de Barcelona is the Catalan capital’s centre devoted to the arts of the object and design. The new museum was created as a result of merging the collections from four of the city’s museums: the Museu de les Arts Decoratives (devoted to the decorative arts), the Museu de Ceràmica (ceramics), the Museu Tèxtil i d’Indumentària (textiles and clothing) and the Gabinet de les Arts Gràfiques (graphic arts). Evidently, then, the common denominator of all these collections from the past and the present is the object and all that it signifies or has signified and contributed to our lives: from conception, creation and production to use in different epochs and societies, during both the artisanal and preindustrial periods and the industrial and digital ages.
The new museum conserves a collection comprising more than 70,000 objects traditionally classified under the name of decorative arts or applied arts. These pieces, which range in date from the fourth century AD to the present, include such unique, internationally-famed collections as those of medieval fabrics, sixteenth-century Catalan enamelled glass and ceramic from Alcora, amongst others.
These arts of the object naturally link up with the museum’s twentieth-century design collections, which feature product, graphic and fashion design. Most are, or have been, “objects for living”, that is to say, closely bound up with everyday, personal or collective life.
Similarly, the historic decorative arts collections also reveal a logical link with the so-called contemporary author arts, forms of artistic expression that adopt traditional techniques such as ceramics, glazing and enamelling.
In other words, the Design Museum conserves a triple heritage:
— historic decorative arts collections (furniture, ceramics, glassware, fabrics, clocks, wallpaper, endpapers…).
— design collections (product, graphic and fashion design).
— twentieth- and twenty-first century author arts (artistic ceramic, enamelwork, jewellery…).
Moreover, the museum resources also seek to stimulate critical reflection on what has been the real contribution of design to twenty-first century society.
A building fit for a museum
The museum is housed in the Disseny Hub Barcelona building in Plaça de les Glòries. This building was designed by the MBM (Martorell, Bohigas, Mackay, Capdevila and Gual) team of architects specifically to conserve, exhibit and promote the museum’s collections, which form an important part of our city’s heritage.
A new, flexible and plural museography
Far from following a chronological discourse based on a conventional museography, featuring a single itinerary and a selection from all the collections, it was decided to employ the exhibition spaces to illustrate the overall museum discourse in a plural, flexible way. Fostering our understanding of the collections, the museum suggests different readings of them through four permanent exhibitions of medium duration.
A Documentation Centre for the research
This centre of the Design Museum will conserve information and documentation related to the arts of the object and design, including more than 22,000 documents: books, magazines, private archives (built up by institutions, companies and professionals), special collections (engravings, photographs, company catalogues) and specialised databases.
Programme of activities
The Museum will present a regular programme of activities related to the exhibitions, guided tours, education services, publications, online services, lecture seasons and workshops.
Outstanding sites: Bloc House Apartment-Museum, Apartment 1/11
The Museum manages guided tours of the Bloc House Apartment-Museum, Apartment 1/11, a symbol of Barcelonan rationalist architecture (1932-1939) designed by the architects Sert, Torres Clavé and Subirana.