Frederic Marès Museum, Barcelona

The contrast from the art below couldn’t be more striking as you are confronted with room after room of ladies’ fans,

Marès was obsessed with collecting objects from everyday life, including these fans.

intricately carved pipes, cigar bands, cigarette rolling papers, ashtrays, iron keys, pocket watches, wooden canes, cameras, victrolas . . . the list goes on and on, seemingly ad infinitum.

Just as mind boggling as the breadth of the collections is the depth. Why have a representative sample of antique keys when you can have them all? The people who painstakingly mounted hundreds of tiny objects in massive frames must have either gone mad or celebrated their good fortune that this rich eccentric was keeping them gainfully employed.

What catches your attention on these two floors will depend on your tastes. The beautiful and mysterious woman I travel with was taken by the fans and the pipes, while I was fascinated by a collection of photographs of a long-forgotten Catalan actor in costume for a wide range of parts.

Religious statue clothed in elegant fabric.

But whatever your taste, it’s worth walking through these two floors to marvel at Marès’ industriousness or perhaps his sheer nuttiness.

The Museu Frederic Marès is free on the first Sunday of the month, which is what drew us there, but even when admission is charged it is among the lowest of all Barcelona’s museums making the Marès the best art bargain in the city.

Museu Frederic Marès:


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