Permanent exhibition

Museum of Basque Society

Come and learn about Basque society, from its origins to the present day.

1 History and Challenges

Church, ground floor

The museum's church is the first stop on the tour. The first thing we see there are Josep M. Sert's canvases. Large paintings which portray events in the territory. In addition, there is an audiovisual presentation narrating the history of the museum and the building. The oldest part of the building was a convent in the 16th century, and the contemporary part was opened in 2011.

At this point, on an interactive screen, the challenges of today's society are offered for consideration: peace, human rights, equality, sustainability, Europe and multiculturalism. These subjects are matters for the museum to reflect upon. That is why part of its programme of activities is devoted to them.


2 Signs of Spirituality

Cloister, ground floor

For centuries, the Basque people have held rites revolving around death and worship of the past. The argizaiolas (funeral candle holders) and estelas (stelae) in this hall are a very representative part of that tradition.


3 Memory Traces

Ground floor

Certain events have been key in the formation and development of Basque society up to the 19th century. Highlights: Roman remains, the War of the Bands, ironworks, the corn revolution, whaling and seafarers, the Inquisition, Jesuits and the Enlightenment.


4 The Awakening of Modernity

First floor

The main keys to understanding today's Basque society are to be found in the 19th and 20th centuries. Mainly because this is when the transition took place from a society with values associated with the Ancient Régime to one completely transformed in its social, cultural and ideological bases.

Living in society

During the 19th and 20th centuries, different events transformed the day-to-day life of the country.

We refer, among other things, to the Carlist Wars, the conquest of rights, the Spanish Civil War, its consequences and the transition to democracy. It is also the era in which ideological plurality blossomed, as well as the rise in awareness of Basque culture and Euskara, the Basque language. The arrival of the railway and leisure also deserve a pause in this area.


Tradition lives on

The farmstead is the typical element of Basque rural society. In the 19th and 20th centuries, activity in the farmsteads became specialised and mechanised, but it remained an institution in which home, socio-economic activity and way of life were united. This area also includes folklore, sports and trades (fishing, crop cultivation and livestock farming) linked to tradition.


Industry, the engine of change

Day-to-day life in the 19th and 20th centuries was affected by the increase in population attracted by the industrial sector, urban expansion, the appearance of a middle class, mass culture and the progressive inclusion of women in the public sphere.


100 years of Basque art

The social, political and cultural context helps us to understand the influences that give Basque art its own identity. This hall gathers together a sample of Basque art from the end of the 19th century to the end of the 20th century, with works by Arteta, Oteiza, Chillida, Ameztoy, etc.


5 Historical Art Collection

Second floor

Includes works by great names in the History of Art between the 15th and 19th centuries: Juan Valdés Leal, Peter Paul Rubens and Joaquín Sorolla.


6 Explore the Art with zoom

Explore the Art with zoom


Second Canvas San Telmo Museoa is an App that enables its users to discover San Telmo Museum’s artistic collections innovatively, exploring the details of works in super high resolution. It will also help to improve interpretation and knowledge of the works visited.

The works are exhibited in the Historical Art Collection gallery, together with a route which follows the evolution of painting over 6 centuries based on two themes: portraits and landscapes.

It is a perfect tool for discovering and enjoying art as well as a hugely practical educational tool for teaching professionals.

Free download

Available at Google Play     Available at la App Store

The museum is closed, but we continue to offer you interesting content on social networks.