Museu Marès: A Collector’s Collection

Were you a collector as a child? I was. Stamps; seashells; those evocative sheets of fine tissue that they used to wrap individual citrus fruits. Another month, another collection. By the time I was ten, I’d abandoned the lot.

Not Frederic Marès though. You may not know him, but he’s Catalonia’s foremost 20th century sculptor, and you’ll find his work on public buildings and in churches here.

How he made time for his work is a mystery. He was an obsessive collector. He collected sculpture to inform his own studies, and …. stuff, because it was interesting.

This is Marès suitcase. He seems pretty well-travelled.

By 1947, his collection was so large that he made it public. On his death in 1991, he bequeathed it to the City of Barcelona. It fills an entire museum.

Here’s the place to come to find an eclectic mix of religious sculpture: crucifixions and Pietàs by the score, as well as Christmas crib figures from the 19th century. It sounds dour, but it’s not. His personal choices make for fascinating viewing…. but if it all gets a bit intense, pop upstairs.

Here are tin soldiers; toy theatres; pairs of spectacles; early bicycles; pipes; dolls; door keys; clocks: walking sticks; extraordinary glass domes that seem to be full of dried flowers – look again. Each flower is made from dozens of shells – this was 19th century seaside art.

This museum, in the heart of Tourist Barcelona, is not crowded. Which was fine by us. But those tourists who amble past, never noticing it’s there, are missing out.

Author: margaret21

I'm retired and living in North Yorkshire, where I walk as often as I can, write, volunteer, and travel as often as I can.

23 thoughts on “Museu Marès: A Collector’s Collection”

  1. There is a fine line between collector and hoarder isn’t there? There are people who are known as extreme collectors – possibly/probably Frederic Marès? I think it’s all in the eye of the beholder.

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  2. I have been collecting picture post cards since I was eight. At least they don’t take up too much room – the messages on the back are more interesting than the pictures.

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  3. Wow! I used to collect stamps and tickets as a kid. Basil collects coins, stamps, and currency. We also save entry tickets to tourist attractions as souvenirs. 🙂

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  4. I love collections like these!
    I don’t remember collecting anything when I was a child; if I ever brought anything home from holidays like shells or pretty stones they mysteriously disappeared after a while unless I secreted them somewhere. The only things I collect now are books and I have a smallish collection of DVDs and CDs because I am old-fashioned and like to own copies of favourite films and music.

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  5. I can totally understand these sorts of collections–collecting things turns the world into a treasure hunt. You’re never bored, because you’re seeking that next find. The museum seems to have done an excellent job of presenting his objets to honor them.

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  6. Aaaah, WHAT A TREASURE this is. This is the ONE place I’d visit for sure if ever my travels bring me back to B. I LOVE all of it. But I think I’d want any of those walking sticks, some are rather fancy and terribly modern!!! 🙂 Must be my ongoing blindness.
    As a child we were rather on the very modest/poor side as a worker’s family with 4 kids. On Saturday pm’s, 10′ before the ‘delicatessen’ shop nearby closed, my dad was found waiting with 2 empty cardboards for the rolling down of the door-griddle. He returned, on foot, with the findings of his treasure hunt. And hence I started a collection of orange papers from the Moro oranges and others…. We also got the occasional kokos nut, ‘fancy’ fruits such as pomegranate, lichies, bananas!!! etc. Him or my mom then proceeded to make something nourishing and good for the family. We had a lot of ‘Birchermüesli’ – and anecdotic side remark – I and my son were patients of Dr. Bircher-Benner’s grandson, who was a fantastic and very in-depth homeopathic doctor in Switzerland.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah! You like orange papers too! They were lovely, and so rarely seen nowadays. We were early English adopters of Bircher-muesli too – and it turns out you’re all but related!

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