In July 1926, one month after the death of Antoni Gaudí, General Director of Barcelona’s Art Museums Joaquim Folch i Torres proposed Gaudí’s workshop be made into a museum, preserving and raising awareness of Gaudí’s work.
The workshop burning down in 1936 was an incredible loss and set in motion a long process of collecting materials connected to Gaudí himself and his work, and of rebuilding the plaster models from the remains. This process would allow work to continue on the Temple and a new museum to open.
The museum was inaugurated in 1961 in the basement on the Passion façade. This primitive core, along with the successive expansions and remodels, is part of today’s museum, which includes Gaudí’s work as a whole but focuses on the works to build the Temple.
Elements worth noting include the restored original models, replicas of originals and new models, as well as the reconstruction of the polyfunicular model of the chapel at Colònia Güell. Also remarkable is today’s model workshop, where they work to restore Gaudi’s original models and reproduce them with different scales to ensure the construction remains true to the original project, as well as a video on the history and current state of construction of the Temple.
INCORPORATING NEW AREAS
Lately, the Temple museum has undergone improvements and a new distribution. The main aim of this project is to make the contents of the museum more approachable and easier for visitors to understand by renovating displays, texts, lighting and the selection of pieces.
Noteworthy among the new areas is one entitled “Inspired by nature”, featuring light panels, large photographs and twenty plaster models that visitors can touch in order to help them understand how important observing and analysing nature was to Gaudí’s formal, symbolic and building solutions.
In the area that features the sections “Origins of the Temple” and “The Temple in Gaudí’s hands” visitors can discover the promoters of the Basilica and how it changed from the initial project proposed by architect Francisco de Paula del Villar to Gaudí’s final solution. This space also evokes Gaudí’s original workshop.
The “Subirachs Vila-Grau Room” is the latest space to be inaugurated, dedicated to two collaborators on the Sagrada Família: sculptor Josep Maria Subirachs and painter and glazier Joan Vila-Grau. Gaudí always knew that other architects, and other craftsmen and artists, would take over the work he had begun at the Basilica and complete it. In this regard, the contribution of these two collaborators has been highly significant from the 1980s. In this area, visitors will discover original stained-glass windows, plaster moulds, bronze pieces and charcoal drawings, as well as an explanation of these experts’ work. They will also get to see a staging of Subirachs’ workshop and two videos letting viewers in on the way these two artists worked and their sources of inspiration.
Work is still under way on this comprehensive project to expand and renovate the museum. Its goal is twofold: to preserve Gaudí’s work and spirit, and to help different types of visitors understand it.