A cannabis museum in Barcelona

In 2012, after 10 years of preparation, the museum in Barcelona opened its doors.

A continually expanding collection and a healthy dose of entrepreneurial spirit stimulated director Ben Dronkers to go in search of a new venue for a sister museum: the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum in Barcelona. After much to-ing and fro-ing, the perfect site was found in 2001: the Palau Mornau, a breathtaking 15th century building in the centre of the Gothic quarter of Barcelona, a stone’s throw from the famous Ramblas.


The Palau Mornau originally consisted of two buildings owned by the Sancliment and Mornau families. The building was renovated in 1908 by the modernist architect Manuel Joaquim Raspall i Mayol (Barcelona 1877 – La Garriga 1937) on the instruction of the then owners, the Nadal family. The building’s modernist character is wholly accredited to him.

An important national monument

Ben Dronkers discovered the building in 2001 – it was in a deplorable state– and realised immediately that it was more than an excellent location for the museum. It was an important national monument, worth restoring to its former glory. With the assistance of architect Jordi Romeu, Dronkers started the restoration, under the watchful eye of the organisations that manage Barcelona’s cultural heritage. After more than ten years, the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum opened its doors on the 11th of May 2012.

Everyone who visits the museum will experience the wonder of it. The Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum in the Palau Mornau enriches the cultural heritage of Spain and Catalonia, and Barcelona in particular.


Highlights from the collection

The Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum collection consists of over 12,000 cannabis related items. From cultivation to consumption, from ancient ritual to modern medicine, every aspect of cannabis in human culture is represented in some way.

Since the inception of the museum in 1985, the collection has grown steadily over the years. At present the collection is made up of historic and modern objects, relating to the past, present and future of medicinal marihuana, the history of hemp, the prohibition of cannabis, or the spiritual and cultural properties of the cannabis plant. The sections devoted to marihuana and hash, industrial hemp, medicine, and popular culture have expanded, and multimedia exhibits were added, with short films devoted to the political, historical, and industrial aspects of cannabis.

During your visit to the museums in Amsterdam and Barcelona you can see, for example: unique old master paintings by contemporaries of Rembrandt, antique devices used for hemp processing, botanical prints depicting marihuana and industrial hemp, atmospheric photos of hash making in various cultures, pipes from all over the world, nineteenth century medicinal cannabis bottles, rare ‘Reefer Madness’ books from the fifties, hemp ropes, old and modern textiles, pop culture paraphernalia (think of Cheech & Chong), state of the art bioplastic made of hemp fibre, etc. Prepare to be staggered by the enormous scope of the collection.

The unique status of the museum as a treasure-house of information has led to generous loans and donations from researchers and cannabis aficionados from all over the world. Please let us know if you would like to contribute to our collection.

Smoker’s delight

 The museum has a sizeable collection of unusual paintings, prints, drawings and photographs of people smoking: men and women, in their early twenties to eighties, from all walks of life.

Exactly when cannabis was first smoked for recreational purposes is unknown, but evidence can be found the world over. Cannabis is often smoked using pipes, in which the weed or hash can be burned and from which the smoke can be effectively inhaled. The oldest known pipes were discovered in a graveyard in Laos. They are approximately 3000 years old and were probably used for smoking cannabis. In Southern and Western Africa, cannabis was burned in small, covered pits, then wooden tubes were used to inhale the smoke produced by these ‘earth pipes’.


The hookah, also known as the water pipe or narghile, is famous all over the world. These elegant pipes were developed in Persia (now Iran) and from the early 17th century they were widely used in Southern Asia and the Middle East. A hookah is characterised by a central bowl in which cannabis is placed on top of hot coals or charcoal, and one or more flexible tubes extending from the body of the pipe, through which the smoke is inhaled. The smoke is cooled by filtering it through a water reservoir.


Kif, a mix of two thirds cannabis and one third tobacco, is traditionally smoked in Morocco in a sebsi, a long, thin pipe with a wooden stem and a clay bowl. The long stem cools the smoke before it is inhaled.

Why do people smoke cannabis?

Every strain of cannabis has a different effects on the human body, from relaxing and calming to a stimulating or even psychedelic effect. The experience differs from one individual to another, as does the strength of the effect. Users often experience temporary changes in perceptions or unexpected thought processes. People let go of fixed ideas and are able to think more freely, which may result in new ideas or insights. For this reason, cannabis has a long history as a substance which can lend inspiration and for recreational purposes.


Deel van een serie prenten met pijpen uit alle werelddelen

The recreational use of cannabis

Cannabis is massively popular as a recreational drug. Across the globe, people – alone or in groups – enjoy joints, pipes, bongs and hookahs packed with hash or marijuana.

Cannabis is massively popular as a recreational drug. Across the globe, people – alone or in groups – enjoy joints, pipes, vaporizers, bongs and hookahs packed with hash or marijuana. Among other things, smoking cannabis helps people to experience music, films or other art more intensely,  or simply enjoy food more. Discussions between friends reach unimagined heights, jokes and funny moments can leave people almost unable to stop giggling, and intimacy can be experienced as never before. Furthermore, the vast majority of these people simply go to work, to the gym or to class the next day as normal.

Responsible adult use

Responsible adult use without adverse health, social, legal or economic consequences is not only possible, but happening every day. Still, recreational use of cannabis carries a strong stigma and is not even possible in most countries, as it has been made illegal.

Recreational use of cannabis in history

Throughout history, there are various traces to be found of the recreational use of cannabis. For instance, in the 16th century, cannabis was smoked recreationally in the Netherlands. At the time, tobacco was very expensive, so people mixed it with hemp, which was also sold by tobacco merchants. This custom was spread by sailors, soldiers and artists and developed into a pleasure which became popular with people in all walks of life. In our museums in Amsterdam and Barcelona, a series of paintings by artists from the Dutch Golden Age is on display. They specialised in depicting people smoking in what were known as ‘smoking houses’, the coffeeshops of the Golden Age.

Drug of choice for an emerging global culture

From the 1960s onward, a broader audience became interested in the mind-expanding properties of hash and marijuana thanks to references to cannabis in art, literature and music. This lead to a popular, new type of use, one that was quite different to both medicinal and spiritual purposes: smoking for fun and to relax. Marijuana and hash became the drug of choice for an emerging global culture, celebrating its own heroes, myths, social conventions and rituals, language and expressions, games and social events.

Today, cannabis use has permeated all layers of society, at least in the West, and its acceptance seems to be on the rise. Even the President of the United States of America no longer denies having used cannabis, and the country of Uruguay has placed production and supply of cannabis in the hands of its government, including for recreational use.

Making hash

Hash (also called hashish) is made from the sticky substance (trichomes) found on marijuana. Some methods are thousands of years old.

The strength, smell and other properties of the hash depend on the plant’s genetics. It is made in various different ways, but the process is always completely natural and does not include the use of chemical additives. Illustrations of these methods can be seen in the museums in Amsterdam and Barcelona, along with different kinds of hash-making equipment.

Different types of hash

Making hash with a sieve

Most types of hash are made by rubbing dried plants over a very fine mesh. The trichomes then fall through the sieve, separating them from the plant matter. The collected resin glands are then worked with heat and pressure to form a coherent mass of hashish. Sieved hash tends to be harder and denser than hand-rubbed hash, as it is often mechanically pressed; it can vary from light brown and dry to very black and sticky.

Making hash by hand

Charas is made by rubbing the hands over the flowers of living female plants, to detach trichomes (tiny resin glands which produce the plant’s active components) from the flowers. The resin is then scraped from the palms and compressed by hand into a homogenous ball. It is usually dark brown or black, slightly sticky and soft at room temperature.


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