One of the most visited addresses in Barcelona
The idea of creating a Gaudí House Museum in the Güell Park arose from the Association of Friends of this architect, an entity founded in 1952 with the objective of celebrating the centenary of his birth. The organisation, which to begin with had the Palau Güell as its head office, by the end of the 50’s needed a new space from which to manage its activities. Therefore, the association purchased this house – in which Gaudí lived for twenty years with his niece and where his father died – from the Chiappo’s, an Italian family who had a musical instruments shop, and inaugurated the House Museum on the 28th of September of 1963 under the direction of Josep Maria Garrut. Since 1992, the Foundation of the Managing Board of the Temple of the Sagrada Familia has been in charge of managing this location, which operates in coordination with the different departments which make up the Sagrada Familia.
The House and Museum, located within the Güell Park, began to be built in 1900 under the direction of the architect Antoni Gaudí. The project was carried out by Francesc Berenguer, assistant of Gaudí in the Temple of the Sacred Family and the Güell colony, and follows the modernist style with Gaudian influence.
Gaudí acquired the House in 1906 and lived there until his death in 1926.
The House still maintains the structure it had when inhabited by Gaudí. The museum is a collection of the architect's work and memorabilia such as furniture, projects and drawings of the architect himself and his assistants. The House is surrounded by a garden featuring many of the gratings deisgned by Gaudí, as well as sculptures and a bypass walk with a parabolic arch pergola designed by the architect.
The distribution of the house
“The house is organised over three floors and a basement, although problems of space and diverse safety regulations mean that only one section can be made available to the public”, advises Núria Grau, coordinator of the House Museum. To all this must be added the difficulty of access to some of the areas, which is the reason why only “between 45 and 50%” of the house is exhibited to the public.
The rooms receive their names from the different projects and characters relating to the life and work of the Catalan artist, such as the Ibarz-Clapés room, making reference to the artist Aleix Clapés, friend and associate of Gaudí, who designed the dining room furniture of the Ibarz family, although there are also rooms that receive their names according to their original function, such as Gaudí’s bedroom and office. Núria Grau underlines that “according to the polls, there is a marked interest in the bedroom of the architect and the furniture, above all the Batlló Room, as well as the bathroom, which is also in demand”.
In the garden, grilles are exhibited which formed part of Gaudí’s work, created using manual techniques: “for example, the grilles of the Vicens house, characterised by their little palms, or the grilles of the lower parts of the Milà house”.
According to Grau, the Museum House has a large number of visitors each year: “in 2007 we were visited by 535.888 people, some 1.500 each day”. In addition, he comments that “according to the statistics published by the Barcelona Tourism, it was the eleventh – amongst museums, collections and audiovisual centres – most visited location in Barcelona, of which the Sagrada Familia occupies the first place.” However, the coordinator highlights that this year the effects of the economic crisis are beginning to be noted, as there is a marked reduction in the number of visitors.
“Collection open to the public”
Despite receiving the name of “House Museum”, it is not exactly a museum. The Generalitat de Catalunya recognises this enclave as a “collection open to the public”. Its relationship with other cultural centres is basically limited to the interchange of publications and the deposit and interchange of artistic objects: “for example, at the MNAC, there is a Batlló chair and a bench of two Batlló seats, and a chair from the offices of the Calvet house”. In addition, “there is also contact with other similar institutions, such as the Arxiu Maragall or the Verdaguer de Folgueroles Museum House”.