I’ve been visiting this place since 1987 and I still can’t decide whether I love it or hate it. Why would I hate it? Well, with its regimented rows of glass cases, broken pots and coins, and very little interpretation – it reminds me of compulsory school museum visits.
And why do I love it? It has a fascinating, very extensive, collection of everyday bits and pieces and paper ephemera from the late 19th century – early 20th century.
Frederic Marès was a sculptor and an eccentric, avid collector of things – crucifixes, walking-sticks, fans, dolls, toy theatres, pipes, cigar-bands, cigarette papers, printers’ handbills, business cards, tram tickets, it goes on and on and on.
As you wander through the galleries you’ll build a fairly strong picture of the leisure preoccupations of the moneyed classes of early 20th century Barcelona.
Through the museum’s omission of any mention of working-class existence you’ll begin to understand the simmering resentments which fuelled the class struggle that climaxed with the Spanish Civil War.
I feature this spot as a location in my novel, After Goya.
Another good reason to visit this curious museum is the courtyard and café – a lovely spot to chill out with an iced-coffee and a good book.