- Football Club Barcelona Museum
The FC Barcelona Museum opened its doors for the first time on September 24, 1984, with its current iteration launched on June 15, 2010. The museum does not offer a guided escorted tour, and this is a failing as it is a missed opportunity for a Spaniard, especially with a Catalan upbringing, to bring to life the exciting history of Camp Nou, the general name for the stadium complex.
To take in Camp Nou properly the most dramatic way is to walk through the stadium complex and, starting in the visitors changing room, progress down through the famous tunnel and onto the pitch. When I visited Camp Nou, a high school group from Madrid was in attendance and their leader had assigned them into six groups each supporting a legendary Barcelona FC player. The spotlighted players were Kubala, Cruyff, Maradona, Guardiola, Ronaldinho, and Messi.
In the players tunnel leading into the stadium is an unsaid commentary on the division of the sacred and the secular. Half way down the stairs is a miniature chapel with pews, candles, pictures of the saints—dedicated to the Black Madonna of Montserrat. On the opposite side of the stairwell is a special broadcasting room designed specifically to interview the "Man of the Match."
While Camp Nou advertising declares that visitors can walk onto the pitch, when I toured, security personnel and groundsmen made the pitch "off limits." The stadium is the biggest in Europe with a seating capacity of 98,000. For certain games and occasions security concerns means that "buffer zones" are created reducing attendance to 90,000. The vast stadium is painted in huge concentric circles of red and blue, Barca's team colors. The walls of the stadium reprise the Barcelona FC slogan which translates as "more than a club." In several conversations before, during, and after visiting, it was stressed to me that Barcelona FC sees itself primarily as an integral feature of the Catalan landscape rather a product of Spain. Would Manchester United followers say their club was a Mancunian sub-culture or rather a symbol of English soccer excellence? [End Page 480]
During the stadium tour one is allowed walk up through the terrace to explore various press boxes and dignitary sky boxes including the Presidential Room, situated near the stadium roof. There is also a stadium photographic gallery where, for a fee, you can be pictured with one of the many international trophies. During my tour of Camp Nou, an English football aficionado was photographed proudly hugging a European Championship Cup draped by a scarf from his favorite home team—Crystal Palace!
The upper level of the museum contains the entry area that has an elaborate sound system room with four suspended Bose-like earphones. This allows the visitor to listen to "El Cant del Barca," the official anthem of Camp Nou performed by the choir Coral Sant Jordi. The recording can be tuned to all the languages of every nationality that has played for Barcelona FC. The listing of these countries testifies to the global reach and embrace of the team, and the cosmopolitan appeal of the game of soccer—with more than forty nations represented.
Adjoining the sound room is a vast horizontal display area with 384 touchscreens that chart the whole history of the football club and trace its celebrated national rivalry with Real Madrid. The first game between the two teams took place in 1902 with Barcelona winning 3-1 in the presence of Alphonse XIV (with no less than six players sporting handlebar moustaches). Leading away from this audience-friendly touch screen display zone is a large walkway with eleven cinema-size screens that have a never-ending highlight film...