The Episcopal Museum of Vic was inaugurated in 1891 by Bishop Josep Morgades i Gili, who reaped the rewards of the efforts made during the Renaixença period by a group of intellectuals and clerics from Vic to recover the Catalan artistic heritage.
Two events can be considered the forerunners of the creation of the Episcopal Museum: the Artistic Archaeological Exhibition of Retrospective Art held in Vic in 1868, organized by the Cercle Literari, with Canon Jaume Collell i Bancells playing a leading role, and the discovery of the Roman temple in 1882, with the subsequent founding of the Societat Arquelògica de Vic, which was entrusted with the creation of a Lapidary Museum, the embryonic heart of the museum’s future archaeological collection. This society was presided over from the start by Bishop Morgades.
1891 – 1898Antoni d'Espona
The first curator of the museum was Antoni d’Espona i de Nuix (1891-1898). The outstanding collections of medieval art and decorative arts put together in those first years were published in 1893 in the form of a catalogue raisonée, traditionally considered the first scientific catalogue of any Catalan museum, on which the young seminarian Josep Gudiol i Cunill collaborated. To begin with, the collections were exhibited above the old Gothic cloister of the cathedral, on a floor built in 1804 by Bishop Francesc de Veyan.
1898 – 1931Mossèn Gudiol
In 1898 Mossèn Gudiol replaced Antoni d’Espona and became the driving force behind the acquisition, installation and classification of the museum’s collections. Shortly afterwards, in 1902, Mossèn Gudiol published Nocions d’Arqueologia Sagrada Catalana, in which he established the criteria for the classification of the arts. This text was the first scientific study on the subject of museology in our country and also became a model and a manual, on the basis of which the art collections of the rest of Catalonia’s diocesan museums were formed. Mossèn Gudiol’s museographic project was based on the separate exhibition of the collections, each one ordered according to chronological and typological criteria. Unlike other museums, though, all the objects the museum incorporated over the years were exhibited to the public in rooms that soon became too small. The most important collections that the public could visit were the ceramics, coinage, archaeology, glass, leather, furniture, painting, precious metals, textiles, clothing, sculpture, metalworking, iron and books.
1932 – 1978Enlargement of the collections
He was succeeded by Mossèn Eduard Junyent i Subirà (1932-1978), who followed the exhibition criteria in the different museographic presentations resulting from the successive enlargements of the rooms. From the moment he took charge of the museum, he gave priority to increasing the exhibition space of the collections of Romanesque and Gothic painting and sculpture. In 1934, the new rooms were opened following a museographic criterion very similar to the one that Joaquim Folch i Torres was then applying at the Museu d’Art de Catalunya in Barcelona. This wish to create a medieval art gallery unique in Europe, with Romanesque paintings on wood beginning with the Catalan masters of the twelfth century was shared by the young art historian Josep Gudiol i Ricart, who from then on worked closely with Eduard Junyent on the museum’s various museographic presentations. Dr. Junyent, however, was unable to carry out the enlargement of the exhibition of the collections until he had at his disposal the premises of the school of Sant Josep, where from 1948 to 1967, in successive stages, he opened the first and second floors of the school to the public with the collections of art and archaeology and the inner courtyard with the lapidary collection.
Later, his successor, Mossèn Miquel dels Sants Gros, kept the layout of the rooms he had inherited from Mossèn Junyent, respecting the Museum’s foundational criteria. During his years as the curator of the Episcopal Museum he promoted several studies on the museum collections and he inaugurated the publication of catalogues raisonées of different collections.
New period of the Museum
In 1995, with the agreement for institutional collaboration between the Bishopric of Vic, Vic Town Council and the Generalitat de Catalunya (Catalan Government), it was decided to begin a new period for the museum, which has led to the construction of a new building. While work was in progress, and with the aim of maintaining continuous contact with the public, the exhibition Obres Mestres was held, with a selection of the Museum’s most representative works of art.
On May 18th 2002 a new building was inaugurated, under the direction of Dr. Miquel Tresserras, and with it a new museological and museographic project started, with new lines for action and new programs which aim to position the Museum as a reference point of quality in the cultural offer of our country.