Unfolding the History of the Barbier-Mueller Museum

Barcelona is a picturesque city located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Catalonian capital of Barcelona is Spain’s second largest city. The origins of the city date back 4,000 years, when it was a part of the Roman Colony and then under the Moorish rule. Barcelona witnessed huge amount of turmoil in the form of sieges, wars, and occupations before it finally became an autonomous democracy in 1975. Barcelona holds a prestigious place in the political and cultural arena of Spain, boasting of some of the finest quality historical buildings, museums, and places of interest.The history of the Barbier-Mueller Museum is very interesting and intriguing. Born in Switzerland in 1857, Josef Muller was a commoner, although his future was not so common. After the loss of his parents at an early age, he was brought up by a governess. At the young age of 20, he took his biggest gamble. He spent an entire year’s earnings on a visit to Paris, to see and purchase one painting from the eminent art dealer, Ambroise Vollard. Under the expert guidance of Ambroise Vollard, Josef went on to acquire the 1905 painting Jardinier Vallier by Cezanne.By the year 1918, Josef had managed to acquire a brilliant collection of paintings by Picasso, Renoir, Cezanne, Matisse, Braques and many other prestigious artists. The urge to collect unique pieces of modern art led to the discovery of the African art form. The Fauvists understood that the crude finishing of African Art held a novelty that had not never before been witnessed. During the 1920’s they discovered the treasure of African tribal art, heretofore untouched by the land of connoisseurs. 1935 saw the New York Museum of Modern Art organize an exhibition on African Negro Art. Josef Muller was not really a fan of organizing conferences or exhibitions. However, in the year 1957 he gave a grand exhibition of his collection of African Art in his native town of Solothurn. It irked Josef greatly that the African tribal art was dismissed as primitive, while the other paintings were considered to be masterpieces, and received profuse appreciation. This triggered the conceptualization of creating a separate space for displaying primitive art. The plan 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 continued to seek out more unique pieces with utmost dedication. He finally became a world famous “chef d””uvre” and collected pieces that would add consistency to the entire collection.The Barbier-Mueller Museum opened in 1977, sadly just 3 months after the demise of Muller. Art connoisseurs joined his friends and family in honoring the grand opening. Soon they had formed the Barbier-Mueller Museum Association, which now proudly boasts of about 1000 members. The striking collection has an ensemble of 7000 works of architecture, art, textiles, corporal adornment, masks and objects of honor. This collection can easily be called the greatest collection of primitive art in the world and is constantly augmented with even more pieces from Jean Paul Barbier. While in Barcelona, visit the Barbier-Mueller Museum for a unique cultural experience you will not soon forget.

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