A Brief History of Casa Museu Gaudí in Barcelona
What is Casa Museu Gaudí?
Casa Museu Gaudí, or Gaudí House Museum in English, is a museum dedicated to celebrated Modernist architect Antoni Gaudí, situated in the building that served as his home from 1906 to 1925.
Casa Museu Gaudí History
Architect Antoni Gaudí is internationally recognised as a genius of his profession, one of the great exponents of Modernism – though his style was so thoroughly his own it defies easy categorisation. From the Casa Batlló to the Sagrada Família, his presence is ubiquitous in Barcelona. Gaudí continues to be revered for his public architecture, but led a closed and solitary private life; the Gaudí House Museum, situated in the building that served as his home from 1906 to 1925, sheds some light on it.
Antoni Gaudí i Cornet was born on the 25th of June 1852, and from an early age he showed a passion for design and the fascinating potential of certain materials. By 1870, he had moved to Barcelona to pursue his studies in architecture. Gaudí’s professors recognised even in the young architect a startling originality. In fact, on Gaudí’s graduation from Barcelona’s School of Architecture in 1878, the director Elies Rogent joked: ‘I do not know if we have awarded this degree to a madman or to a genius; only time will tell’. Over a century later, time has told, and justified Rogent’s decision as a wise one: Gaudí’s work has become the pre-eminent symbol of Barcelona.
Gaudí lived here in the Park Güell during the later years of his career. The house was originally a show home for Eusebi Guëll’s residential development. Gaudí purchased the house in 1906 and moved in with his father and niece. Though both died shortly after the move, Gaudí continued living here by himself, assisted in his daily tasks by local Carmelite nuns.
Over time, his passion for his work led him to withdraw from society. Gaudí, who in his youth had frequented theatres, concerts, and tertulias (or social gatherings), went from being a young dandy with gourmet tastes to neglecting his appearance, eating frugally, and distancing himself from social life. He devoted himself ever more fervently to religion during his later years, especially as his life became increasingly intertwined with the Sagrada Família project. Gaudí grew obsessed with the construction of the basilica, and by the end of 1925, he moved into his on-site workshop to keep a constant watch over its progress. His growing self-denial concerned friends about the state of his physical and mental health. In fact, when in June 1926 Gaudí was killed by a tram in an accident, his appearance had become so dishevelled that no one at the scene was able to identify him as Barcelona's celebrated architect!
After his death, Gaudí’s house in the Park Güell was briefly privately owned before a series of successful campaigns returned the building into public hands. The Junta Constructora del Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família Foundation restored the house's interior as it had been during Gaudí’s lifetime, and shortly after, in September 1963, the museum was inaugurated.
The house provides insight into Gaudí’s relatively simple life, drawing a dramatic contrast with the ornate and intricate designs he crafted throughout his career. The rooms' minimalist style and the presence of religious iconography and material throughout the property denote his profound and disciplined Christian faith. Other parts of the museum have, however, been redecorated with his artwork to honour his legacy. Among the decorations are pieces of furniture from Casa Batlló and Casa Calvet, and wrought-iron gates from Casa Vicens and Casa Milà, all houses designed by the great architect. The Gaudí House Museum remains one of the highlights of the city. The museum not only gives us a glimpse into the architect's daily life, but it also introduces us to Gaudí, the person.
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