Located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, Barcelona is a picturesque city. Also the capital of Catalonia, it is Spain’s second largest city after Madrid. The origins of the city go back to 4,000 years and it was later a part of the Roman Colony and finally under the Moorish rule. Barcelona has witnessed huge amount of turmoil in the form of sieges, wars, occupations, destructions and finally in the year 1975 it became an autonomous democracy. Barcelona city has always held a prestigious place in the political and cultural arena of Spain and it boasts of some finest quality historical buildings, museums and places of interest for tourists.
The history of the Barbier-Mueller Museum is very interesting and intriguing. It started with a commoner Josef Muller born in 1857 in Switzerland. By twist of fate, he lost his parents at an early age and was brought up by a governess. At the young age of 20, he took his biggest gamble. He spent his entire earnings of a year and created a painting and took off to Paris to meet the eminent art dealer, Ambroise Vollard. Under the expert guidance of Ambroise Vollard, Josef went on to acquire the 1905 painting by Cezanne, Jardinier Vallier.
By the year 1918, Josef had managed to acquire a brilliant collection of paintings by Picasso, Renoir, Cezanne, Matisse, Braques and many more prestigious names. The urge to be unique and to create modern art helped Fauvists discover African form of art. They understood that the crude finishing of African Art held a novelty that had not been witnessed before and that the idea had a lot of potential. During the 1920s they found the treasure of African tribal art that was untouched by the land of connoisseurs. 1935 saw the New York Museum of Modern Art organise an exhibition on African Negro Art.
Josef Muller was not known to be too keen to organise conferences or exhibitions. However, in the year 1957, he gave a grand exhibition on his collection of African Art in Solothurn, his native town. It irked Josef greatly that the African tribal art was dismissed as primitive and the other paintings were considered as great pieces of art and received profuse appreciation. This triggered the conceptualization of creating a seperate space for displaying primitive art and took its final shape 20 years later.
Josef Muller’s son-in-law Jean Paul Barbier added his existing collection to that of Muller’s and seeked pieces of art with utmost dedication. He finally became a world famous “chef d’œuvre” and collected pieces that would add consistency to the entire collection.
Finally, the year 1977 saw the opening of the Barbier-Mueller Museum, sadly just 3 months after the demise of Muller. The grand opening was honored by art connoisseurs and art lovers from all over the world along with his friends and family. Soon they formed the Barbier-Mueller Museum Association that proudly boasts of about 1,000 members as of date.
The striking collection has an ensemble of 7,000 works of architecture, art, textiles, corporal adornment, masks and objects of honour. This collection can easily be called the greatest collection of primitive art in the world and is constantly agmented with more pieces of art by Barbier.