Montserrat lost most of its heritage during the Napoleonic Wars. However, since the
Monastery was restored in 1844, the museum has formed a valuable collection of artistic works.
Private donations, from the artists themselves, and the sensitivity of the monks have made
The Museum is divided into different sections organised in an instructive way. Guided tours are
Archaeaology of the Biblical Lands
The arqueology of the Bible lands is represented by an important collection of
pieces connected to countries in the Bible (Mesopotamia, Egypt, Cyprus and
Palestine). The monk Bonaventure Ubach (who died in 1960) gathered these pieces
together and began studies of the Bible at Montserrat, which were continued by
his followers. In addition to the most important pieces which are on permanent
display, the Museum has an alternating show for visitors and scholars of its
Important pieces from Mesopotamia are the
numerous cuneiform tablets in Akkadian, Hittite and Sumerian dating from 3400 BC
to 600 BC. There is also a sizeable collection of stone cylinders, witdh their
seals, which provide evidence of the different periods of Mesopotamian history..
From Egypt, there is a collection of
ancient funerary objects including a mummy of a twenty-five years old woman from
the late period, two sarcophagi, two Canopic vases, statuettes and amulets. .
The collection of objects from Palestine
includes ceramics from a number of biblical epochs, some dating from 4000 BC;
coins, statues of Greek and Caananite gods, Roman and Byzantine glasses, an
extensive collection of lamps, etc. The collection of Cypriot ceramics is also
interesting, with the earliest pieces dating from the twentieth century.
Paintings by Old Masters
This important collection contains old masters from the thirteenth to the
eighteenth century including works by Berruguete, Morales, el Greco, Bonfigli,
A. de Salerno, Marco Pino, Caravaggio, Luca Giordano and Tiepolo. A large number
of these paintings were acquired in Italy between 1914 and 1920 during the time
of Abbot Antoni M. Marcet. Catalan and Castillian painting is represented by
canvasses from the fifteenth and sisteenth centuries.
The Museum also has a permanent exhibition on the history of the Image of Our
Lady of Montserrat to help pilgrims and visitors understand the historical
evolution of the Image of Saint Mary that is venerated at Montserrat. This
exhibition is entiled Nigra sum meaning "I am a black woman" in reference to the
text in the book of the Song of Songs 1, 5 which says "I am black, but comely",
words which perfectly suit the Image of Our Lady of Montserrat in the physical
sense as well as in the symbolic or theological sense. The exhibition shows the
developments in the rich iconography over the course of various epochs, from the
twelfth century to 1947 when the Image was installed on the throne in the Niche.
There are pieces of sculpture, paintings (Joan A. Ricci, c. 1639; Olga
Sacharoff, 1947, and others), drawings, engravings (some from 1499), medals, etc.
A collection of 160 Byzantine and Slavonic icons.
Phos Hilaron are two Greek words which have derivations also in the Latin laguages
(phos, photos: light, photography, photocopy; hilaron: laughing, hilarius, humorous).
In fact, it is a typical song in the eastern churches where is known and sung by millions of
people in their native languages.This title wants to express the determinant role that both the icons'
light ant the ambience lights, which are golden typically Byzantine, play in this exhibition.
Gold-work is represented inthe Montserrat Museum by a collection of accessories
to the liturgy (chalices, patens, cruets, crowns, monstrances, pectoral crosses,
etc.) from the fifteenth to the twentieth century, which show the development in
techniques and artistic styles. The richly decorated crown and septre offered by
the Catalans to Our Lady in 1881 when she was proclaimed patron saint of
Catalonia are of special importance. There are also the Baroque cruets and
chalice of enamelled gold given to Montserrat by Emperor Ferdinand III of
Austria in thanks for his ictory over Gustavus Adolphus of Italy and the rock
crystal reliquary offered to Our Lady in 1605 by the duke of Mantua and Montferrat, Vicenzo de Gonzaga.
Modern painting and Sculpture
The modern painting and sculpture collection contains a representative selection
of work by Catalan artists who were working between the middle of the nineteenth
and the middle of the twentieth centuries. The initial core, which went on show
in 1982, consists of works from the Josep Sala i Ardiz Collection by artists
such as Martí Alsina, Vayreda, Gimeno, Rusiñol, Casas, Nonell, Mir, Anglada
Camarasa, Picasso and Dalí. Some years later the Xavier Busquets Collection of
French Impressionist paintings was added, with works by Monet, Sisley, Degas,
Pissarro, Rouault and Poliakoff. Works by other artists such as Singer Sargent,
Sorolla, Julio Romero de Torres and Zuloaga complete this section of the museum.
The artists represented mean that the Museum of Montserrat has one of the best
collections of Catalan Modernista and French Impressionist painting in