The permanent exhibition is a proposal to explore the history of Catalonia, ranging from prehistoric times to the present day, focusing its discourse on the knowledge and understanding of the characteristics and evolution of the societies that have occupied the territory today known. as in Catalonia, emphasizing both the political, the social, economic and cultural aspects, with a visibly didactic and popular character.
Steam and nation
Throughout the eighteenth century, after the defeat of 1714, Catalonia inaugurated a period of economic growth in which the foundations of the industrial revolution were laid. Agricultural specialization, the emergence of cotton manufactures, and the opening of trade with America are some of the keys to this process.
Industrialization began in 1830, based on the textile sector. Vapors and industrial colonies form a new economic model that transforms Catalan geography and society. The growth of cities runs parallel to the extension of two new social classes: the industrial bourgeoisie and the working class.
In Catalonia, the construction of the Spanish liberal state is responding to Carlism, federal republicanism and the protectionist campaigns. At the same time, the Renaixença was launched, a movement to revitalize the Catalan language and culture, which is of paramount importance in the formation of national consciousness.
The bases of the industrial revolution
After the disaster of 1714 and after the long postwar period, Catalan society is experiencing a period of population and economic growth. In the coastal counties, specializing in vineyard cultivation and the development of traditional industries, they are targeting the export market. Reus, Vilanova or Mataró are active centers of manufacture and trade.
Throughout the eighteenth century, the opening of trade with America played a key role in the economic takeoff of the country. Many of the capital obtained from the commercial exchange with the American colonies, is invested later in the local industries. Catalonia lays the foundations for industrialization, which will have one of its main engines in the textile sector.
Art, science and thought
The cultural and scientific thrust of the second half of the eighteenth century, connected with the Enlightenment, is developed by private academies and institutions such as the Board of Trade, the Academy of Good Letters of Barcelona, the Academy of Sciences Natural and Arts or the Academy of Medicine.
All of these institutions promote technical study and innovation in response to the needs of the industry and make every effort to make known the scientific news of the time. In the artistic field, the sensitivity of the Baroque gives way to neoclassical aesthetics and the spirit of the Enlightenment is present in much of the cultural manifestations.
The nineteenth century is for Catalonia a century of great political instability. From 1793 to 1833, the country was experiencing the definitive crisis of the old regime and the introduction of liberalism foreshadowed a new model of society that found, however, a strong resistance to Carlism. This conservative and traditionalist movement, has a strong presence in certain regions, and causes a long armed conflict.
The struggles between liberals and absolutists during the reign of Ferdinand VII, and the moderate and progressive during the reign of Elizabeth II, show the difficulties of consolidating a modern liberal state in Spain as a whole. In the second half of the century, democratic ideas and the emergence of the labor movement play a key role in the political mobilization and transformation of the country.
The industrialization of steam
After the economic breakthrough of the 18th century, Catalonia experienced during the 19th century the economic and social transformations resulting from industrialization. After the first Carlist war (1833 – 1840), industrial growth, already begun in the previous decade, became spectacular with the widespread introduction of the steam engine.
Industrialization, based mainly on the textile sector, shapes a particular geography that transforms the territory. In the traditional manufacturing towns such as Barcelona, Terrassa or Sabadell, so-called ‘vapors’ are installed, which attract thousands of workers from rural areas. At the same time, industrial colonies are installed in river basins, which harness hydraulic energy.
With industrialization, Catalonia is aware of the progress and conflicts arising from a capitalist society. The Catalan bourgeoisie aware and politically organized to defend their interests in the Spanish courts. Campaigns in favor of protectionism in the industry run into the interests of much of the state, where a traditional economic structure still prevails.
The working class, meanwhile, also organizes itself in the face of the pitiful living conditions that many workers are subjected to. Labor groups are growing and, from the second half of the century, the emergence of political parties and unions connected with the international labor movement, play a key role in social mobilization and political conflicts in the country.
The Renaissance, civility and nationalism
The influence of romanticism and the European cultural currents of the time, generate the Renaixença, a movement to revitalize the Catalan language and culture, which affects all areas of creation and all social classes. The authors of the Renaixença, connect Catalan society with their historical tradition and are of paramount importance in the formation of a national consciousness.
Throughout the nineteenth century, the various conflicts with the state and the dynamism of Catalan society, with all their complexity, richness and contradictions, laid the foundations for future political Catalanism. In 1880 the first Catalanist Congress is celebrated and two years later the Catalan Center is constituted, which has among its first actions the presentation of a memorial of grievances to King Alfonso XII.
Social changes and population growth force the urban space to be adapted to new demands. The demolition of the walls that encircle the cities and the construction of new extensions and neighborhoods planned with rationality in urban development are a first step. In the case of Barcelona, the walls were demolished in 1854 and the Pla Cerdà was implemented, which built the Eixample.
The cities are provided with various facilities. Sewerage and water supply to the homes are becoming a significant milestone in improving living conditions. Gasification contributes to street lighting and transport is modernized by animal traction trams.
Modernism is the dominant artistic and cultural current in the western world at the turn of the century. In Catalonia, it is nourished by a historical moment that gives it a very particular character. Cities are growing, welcoming new architecture, and the need to modernize society and culture, is a priority for the modernist intellectuals of the country, in the context of successive political crises.
Figures as prominent as Antoni Gaudí, Joan Maragall, Ramón Cases or Santiago Rusiñol, express their transformative spirit from different sensibilities and place Catalan culture at the forefront. Architecture, music, theater, literature, and also political essay, are imbued with the spirit of modernism and have a great impact on the society of the time.
The electric years
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Catalonia is a country bursting in political, economic, social and cultural spheres. The crisis of the regime, favors the rise of republicanism and political Catalanism, which in the elections of 1907 won a great victory. In this context, the Commonwealth of Catalonia (1914), the first self-governing body since 1714, is constituted.
Catalan industry is undergoing a stage of diversification and the anarcho-syndicalist labor movement consolidates and obtains the establishment of the eight-hour day after a general strike (1919). Social conflict and the revitalization of one’s own culture, with Noucentisme and the avant-garde, are two elements that mark this period, together with the military dictatorship of Primo de Rivera (1923-1930).
With the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic (1931), a statute of political autonomy for Catalonia is approved. The military coup of 1936, however, begins three years of bloody civil war that ends with the establishment of General Franco’s dictatorship. Self-government is abolished, and the leftist and Catalanist movements are suffering severe repression.
Industrial diversification and the rural world
Between the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries, there was a new impetus in production systems, known as the second industrial revolution. They are characterized by the use of new energy sources, such as electricity and oil, industrial diversification, with the emergence and development of new sectors, and the generalization of new communication and transport systems.
Cities are growing slowly, and increasing urban demand, together with the internationalization of the agricultural market, is one of the determining factors in the transformation of the rural world. In many Catalan counties, however, the changes are limited in scope and the novelties coexist with a traditional production structure.
The deep crisis of the Restoration regime, caused by the loss of the last overseas colonies in 1898, gives a new impetus to political Catalanism. In 1901, on the occasion of the elections to Corts, the Regionalist League was created, a conservative party, close to the Catalan bourgeoisie, which was born with the aim of establishing a new governability in both Catalonia and Spain.
In 1906, in response to a series of government aggressions, Solidaritat Catalana was created, a coalition that brings together different Catalanist forces, including the League. The coalition is successful in the election, though it is soon dissolved due to ideological differences. From the elections of 1909, the catalanism is divided in two great branches: the regionalist and pactist right and the nationalist and republican left.
On April 6, 1914, the Mancomunitat de Catalunya is constituted, the first institution of self-government in the country since 1714, thanks to the momentum and strength of the Catalan nationalist sectors. The Mancomunitat feeds the four Catalan provincial councils and, although it is an institution of strictly administrative nature, it has great political importance.
Chaired by Enric Prat de la Riba (1914-1917) and Josep Puig i Cadafalch (1917-1923), both members of the Regionalist League, the institution becomes a basic instrument in the service of modernizing the country. The Mancomunitat builds mobility, health and education infrastructures, and contributes to the revitalization of the Catalan language and culture.
Labor and social conflict
The labor movement, inspired by Marxist and anarchist thinking, gains political significance at the turn of the century, despite the failure of the general strike of 1902 and the repression that follows Tragic Week. In 1910, the Anarcho-syndicalist National Confederation of Labor (CNT) was formed, which became the hegemonic union of Catalan workers’ labor until the Civil War.
After the Canadian strike (1919), which restored the eight-hour working day, the escalation of attacks between anarchists and gunmen of the employer makes the streets of Catalan cities a real battlefield. The military dictatorship of Primo de Rivera, which occurred in 1923, begins a severe crackdown on workers’ organizations.
The Republican Generalitat
On April 14, 1931, Francesc Macià proclaims the Republic after the collapse of the monarchist parties in municipal elections, and agrees with the rest of the democratic forces of Spain to approve a statute of political autonomy for Catalonia. Thus, within the framework of the Second Spanish Republic, the old Generalitat is restored, although with completely renewed powers.
The Republic opens a period of democracy and freedom marked by social polarization and an international context presided over by the rise of fascism and the economic crisis. The conflicts finally lead to the military uprising (1936) and the civil war. The Generalitat is involved to the last, in its defense of republican law and in the fight against fascism.
The civil war
The military coup of July 17, 1936 gives way to three years of bloody civil war. Catalonia remains loyal to the Republic, and at the same time undergoes a revolutionary process driven by anarchist militias. The Generalitat organizes the resistance and the war effort, and suffers the internal confrontations of the different mobilized political and union forces.
The civilian population is struck by the hardships of conflict: rising prices, famine and bombings. The defeat at the Battle of the Ebro marks the fate of the republican side and results in the fall of Catalonia. The end of the war and the beginning of the military dictatorship of General Franco, led to the suppression of Catalan autonomy, exile and a sharp repression of the Catalan and leftist movements.
Undo and resume
After the civil war, the Franco regime (1939-1975) provoked the exile of thousands of citizens and began a severe repression of the Catalan and leftist movements. Proof of this is the assassination of President Lluís Companys in 1940. The politics of autarky and the consequences of the war lead the country to economic collapse and misery.
At first, the dictatorship is assimilated to the fascist regimes of Italy or Germany, but in the context of the Cold War a discreet approach to the international community and a process of economic openness begins. The entry of foreign capital, the diversification of industry and tourism, led to the start of the Catalan economy and the arrival of thousands of workers from other regions of Spain.
Opposition to the regime, started in 1939, is reorganized and gained a significant popular presence in the early 1970’s. After the dictator’s death, a new democratic constitution (1978) and a new Statute of Autonomy (1979) mark. the beginning of the recovery of democracy and freedom.
The long postwar period
The republican defeat has devastating consequences for Catalonia. A large part of the political class, the intelligentsia, the workers’ and union leaders, as well as a large number of citizens, are forced into exile. In the interior, the Francoist army is using a very severe repression, including the execution of the President of the Generalitat de Catalunya, Lluís Companys, in 1940.
The symbols of Catalanity are persecuted, while imposing a new political regime, inspired by fascism but with deep Catholic roots. Francisco Franco concentrates all the powers of a totalitarian state, based on the existence of an official ideology and a single party. Economic misery stifles the country, well into the 1960’s.
The economic growth of the sixties
From the 1960’s, the Catalan economy and society have undergone a profound transformation. With the enactment of the Stabilization Plan in July 1959, the regime abandons the autarkic model in force since 1939. The liberalization of trade and the re-establishment of the free foreign exchange market occur at a time when the European economy is expanding.
Catalan industry becomes supplier of consumer goods to the Spanish market and is experiencing tremendous growth. This causes the massive arrival of workers from other regions of Spain. The expansion is carried out without urban planning or democratic control of the economic model. These shortcomings drag on and become noticeable in the decades to come.
The immigration wave
Economic development and the agrarian crisis generate migratory currents throughout Spain. Migrants from different destinations leave the most depressed areas. Thousands of Andalusians, Castilians, Extremadura, Murcians and Galicians come to Catalonia with the need to find work and the difficulty of adapting to a new environment.
The arrival of these migrants has a great impact on Catalan society, especially in the metropolitan areas. Some populations, doubling their number in a few years. Soon the ‘other Catalans’, as the writer Francesc Candel describes them, identify with the country and make a decisive contribution to building a shared future.
From the 1960’s onwards, opposition movements to the regime have emerged from the isolation they have been subjected to and which bring together larger and larger sectors of society. The incorporation of new generations that have not experienced the war and the changes that the world and Catalan society are experiencing, generate a plural movement that demands the return of freedom, democracy and autonomy.
Despite the regime’s openness and its shy approach to the international community, the lack of civil liberties is more than apparent in Franco’s Spain. The creation of the Assembly of Catalonia (1971), in which very diverse anti-Franco groups come together, from the communists to the conservative nationalists, is of paramount importance for the country’s political future.
The recovery of autonomy
The first democratic elections after the dictator’s death, in June 1977, give the majority in Catalonia to forces that advocate the reestablishment of the Generalitat and autonomy. On September 11 of that year, a million Catalans are demonstrating in the same vein. Both factors force the reestablishment of the provisional Generalitat and the return from exile of its president, Josep Tarradellas.
The Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia in force since 1979 is the result of arduous negotiations between the political forces in Catalonia and the Spanish government. In 1979, the Corts approved the text, which is endorsed by the Catalan people. The Spanish Constitution of 1978, also approved by referendum, and the deployment of the state of autonomies, inaugurate a new period of democracy and institutional stability.
Portrait of contemporary Catalonia
Catalonia has lived, since 1980, the longest period of self-government in its contemporary history. The democratization of public life, European integration, the extension of services associated with the welfare state and the increase in population, with the arrival of immigrants from all over the world, are some of the hallmarks of this stage.
With the projection of the audiovisual ‘Catalunya.cat’, the present area summarizes the historical trajectory of the country from the death of Franco to the present. At the same time, the Museum invites the visitor to take part in an interactive questionnaire on some key aspects that have marked the evolution of Catalan society in recent decades.
Older, more diverse
Between 1980 and 2006, the population of Catalonia increased from six to seven million. The 1980s demographic stagnation gave rise to significant growth in the following decades, the result of a new migratory wave and an increase in life expectancy. Aging is one of the great challenges for the future.
Catalonia becomes a region of great cultural diversity, with citizens from all over the world. Values and lifestyles have changed significantly in recent decades, giving way to a more open and tolerant society, incorporating new family models and respecting the diversity and vitality of civil society, one of their great riches.
Catalan, everyone’s thing?
After the persecution suffered during the Franco regime, with the restoration of self-government, a process of revitalization of the native language begins. Thanks to the complicity of civil society, government initiatives are being promoted in favor of the Catalan language and also of Aranese, such as the Language Normalization Act (1983) or the Language Policy Act (1998).
The arrival of several migratory waves in recent decades poses new challenges for the language. According to statistical studies, newcomers learn Catalan at a rather high percentage, and more and more are considering it a native language. In this sense, the language model of public school immersion is a success and contributes, in a decisive way, to social cohesion.
The Catalan economy has been experiencing a profound change in its structure since the 1970’s. Two major crises, between 1975 and 1984 and 1992-1995, result in the loss of thousands of jobs. The economic model is transformed with the increase of the service sector to the detriment of agriculture and industry. Tourism is becoming a fundamental sector.
Spain’s entry into the European integration process in 1986 represents a significant step towards the internationalization of the Catalan economy and also a challenge to its competitiveness. Since the 1990’s, Catalonia has concentrated a quarter of all foreign investment in Spain, making it one of the most active and dynamic regions in southern Europe.
The new poverty
Despite social advances and the general modernization of society, groups of the population living below the poverty line persist. Young people with social difficulties, long-term unemployed and especially elderly people, as a consequence of their higher life expectancy and the migration of pensions, are the main risk groups.
Also noteworthy are the newly arrived immigrants, who have just arrived in the country. Increasing the cost of living, precarious employment, difficulties in accessing housing and the constraints of social policies become, before the real estate bubble burst, the economic crisis the welfare state.
With more autonomy
The political autonomy, regulated by the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia, allows the deepening in the democratic life of the country, the public participation of the citizens and the construction of a self-government that aspires to have all the own institutions of a democratic, autonomous and socially advanced society.
Throughout this period, the institutionalization of the Generalitat is promoted and its deployment, as well as that of the other public administrations on the territory, with the aim of improving the living conditions of citizens in all areas : welfare state, territorial rebalancing and social, cultural, economic and political projection of Catalonia in the world.
More public facilities
The improvement of the infrastructure and the network of public facilities has been a constant since the recovery of self-government. All the administrations with powers on the territory, especially the Generalitat and the city councils, contribute.
Since the mid-1980’s, Catalonia has been directly managing the policies of health, education, universities, culture, the media, justice and citizen security.
The institutional trajectory
In 1980, the first autonomous government is formed from democratic elections, chaired by Jordi Pujol, from the Convergence and Union federations. Throughout five legislatures, Pujol chairs the Generalitat, in a period characterized by the deployment of autonomy and the institutionalization of self-governing bodies.
In the 2004 autonomous elections, Pasqual Maragall, of the Party of Socialists of Catalonia, was elected president at the head of a tripartite leftist and Catalanist government that made political change in Catalonia a reality. Two years later, the socialist José Montilla also succeeds him.
Parliamentary life and results
Catalan parliamentary life since the restoration of self-government revolves around a fairly stable pent-party system around Convergence and Union (CIU) political parties, Socialist Party of Catalonia (PSC), Popular Party (PP) , Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and Initiative for Green Catalonia-United and Alternative Left (ICV-USA).
The presence of an interactive module in this area allows you to consult all kinds of data related to the functioning of the Parliament of Catalonia from 1980 to the present.
History Museum of Catalonia
The Museum of the History of Catalonia (MHC) is a museum located in the Palau de Mar in Barcelona, created with the mission of telling its visitors the history of Catalonia, by means of a collection of objects and documents that are They relate, in historical recreations and settings, and in audiovisual and computer equipment, which playfully approach the history of this nation, aiming to stimulate, as well as inform, the interest in the evolution of Catalan culture. It was created in 1996 by the Government of the Generalitat. It is also responsible for managing monuments owned by the Government of Catalonia, with the aim of improving their conditions of maintenance, visit and cultural dissemination. The museum depends on the Ministry of Culture of the Generalitat de Catalunya, which manages it through its Catalan Agency for Cultural Heritage.
The History Museum of Catalonia is a space open to everyone so that people can meet, debate and reflect. It is also a tool helping provide information, education and entertainment, while at the same time raising awareness. The permanent exhibition offers an interactive story of the history of Catalonia from earliest times to the present day, complemented with educational and leisure activities, workshops and temporary exhibitions.
The History Museum of Catalonia has become established as a leader in preserving, researching and popularising the country’s history and cultural heritage. The founding decree of 1996 establishes that the institution’s mission is precisely to “preserve, explain and popularise the history of Catalonia as collective heritage and strengthen citizens’ identification with the nation’s history”.