The building

Honouring Marès' desire, the Barcelona Town Hall agreed to create the museum and locate it in the Gothic Quarter. The first hall was opened in 1946, and the centre was officially inaugurated in 1948.

The museum was laid out taking advantage of a series of buildings that occupied part of the quarters of what used to be the Royal Palace, the headquarters of the counts of Barcelona and the kings of the Catalan-Aragonese Crown in the Middle Ages. The mediaeval-style restoration of some of the areas within the new museum, dovetailing with the campaigns to renovate the Gothic Quarter, furnished the collections with a unique setting.

Currently, you can enter the museum through the courtyard, garden of the aforementioned Royal Palace, from Plaça de Sant Iu, next to the cathedral.

Even after the museum had opened Frederic Marès never abandoned his passion for collecting and kept acquiring pieces that enabled him to bolster and round out his collections already on display and even start new ones. This, along with the donations from private individuals and public or private institutions, made it necessary to undertake several enlargements of the building.

In late 1948, the four halls in the first building with its entrance was on Comtes de Barcelona street were officially inaugurated. The extension and remodelling projects continued until 1970, when the museum reached its current architectural size.