Barcelona elevates design to a new level

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Museu del Disseny brings together city’s historic collections

Barcelona’s mayor, Xavier Trias, is shown the museum by its director, Pilar Vélez

The new Museu del Disseny officially opened this weekend in a dramatic building on the Diagonal, one of the city’s main avenues. The Mayor of Barcelona cut the ribbon on Saturday at the new institution that unites the city’s historic collections of design, furniture, ceramics, graphic art as well as fashion and fashion photography.

The new design museum is part of the Disseny Hub, a €101m project that includes a conference centre, library, archive and auditorium. Designed by MBM Architects, the zinc-clad building overlooks an artificial lake and new public space.

The museum has a 70,000-strong collection formed by merging Barcelona’s museums of textiles, ceramics, decorative arts and graphic design. Objects range from Moorish and Renaissance fabrics to a 1934 armchair by Josep Lluís Sert and a Cobi figure in aluminium, the mascot designed by Javier Mariscal for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

On the ground floor and in a tower cantilevered over the busy avenue there are 5,000 sq. m of exhibition space. Long-term exhibitions include a history of 20th century design; “Extraordinary!”, a gallery of Catalonian decorative art from the third to the 20th century, and “Dressing the Body”, an exhibition of costume and textiles from the 16th century to the present.

Objects not on display are housed in 2,000 sq. m of storage space on the multi-storey building’s lower level, where there is also a 900 sq. m documentation centre. Directed by Pilar Vélez, who has organised three of the inaugural exhibitions, the new institution has been funded by the city of Barcelona and the government of Catalonia. The museum’s annual budget is €2.6m. The museum is free to enter until the end of January 2015, after which entrance will be €6 for adults.

Museo del Disseny’s dramatic building, which overlooks the Diagonal avenue

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