Homo Faber, National Museum of Science and Technology of Catalonia

“Homo sapiens Faber” is a permanent exhibition occupying a 350 m2 section of the basement of the mNACTEC, showing the evolution of science and technology from the first great technological revolution of humanity, the Stone Age revolution, up to early industrialisation, focusing in particular on the Catalan context.

Mankind has, since the earliest times, unlike other animals been a “homo faber”, in other words he has manufactured tools thanks to his intelligence and the fact of having hands. Through science and technology, mankind has succeeded in living longer and more comfortably, and has been able better to understand his surroundings. Science and technology have not, though, always gone hand in hand, but have instead over the years progressively established a closer relationship, although it was not until the industrial revolution that this connection was definitively forged.


1. The First Humans, The First Tools
2. The Stone Age Revolution
3. The Birth Of Science
4. The Romans: Engineers And Builders
5. The Middle Ages: Confluence Of Technologies
6. The Scientific Revolution
7. The Age Of Enlightenment
8. Towards The Industrial Society


Lock and key
Large wooden lock and key, with two carved pieces which fit two wooden pieces or fixtures. The bolt moves freely when the key turns and lifts the fixtures.

The lock is presented on a wooden base and protected on the reverse by a screwed-on sheet of perspex. The wooden lock is one of the first produced in Ancient Egypt after experiencing successive modifications. This lock in particular comes from Ribera del Gállego and was in use until 1930.

Agricultural tool with a rigid frame used after ploughing to break up the earth, pull out weeds and cover over the seeds. It works the surface part of the soil. The working part comprises a series of rigid teeth or tines mounted vertically to a wooden rectangular structure, and arranged in three rows.

Two iron rings were attached to the draught animal pulling it. It would also level the soil.

Roman plough
A Roman type plough comprising a long arm (the beam), which was called by the animals, and the mouldboard, the rear part of the plough onto which the ploughman held. The share, the piece of iron that cut through the earth to create the horizontal furrow, is attached to the plough.

The first ploughs were used by farmers in Mesopotamia around 3500 BC, and were pulled by oxen. Around 500 BC, farmers began to make iron ploughshares, that were harder and larger, making them stronger and longer lasting. The farmer would walk behind the plough, holding it at an incline to push the ploughed earth to one side as it advanced, although this operation did not cover over all the surface vegetation. The Romans used this type of plough, which is why it is known as a Roman plough.

Berguedana Spinning machine
The Berguedana spinning machine was made up of a pinewood structure – gàbia – which occupied a space 1.80 metres long, varying in width depending on the number of spindles. In this case it has 42 bobbins. The Berguedana was operated by a single person who stood between the platforms and in front of the carriage.

This machine for spinning cotton was used in Catalonia until the late 18th century. This manual machine was built around 1790 by the brothers Ramon and Josep Farguell, carpenters from Berga, and introduced improvements to the early models of Hargreavers spinning machines.

The object kept in the museum is a replica.

Jacquard loom
The Jacquard loom, invented in 1804, made the production of mechanically manufactured fabrics of greater size, perfection and colour possible. This loom consisted of a machine called a Jacquard in the upper part, which used a series of perforated cards to create a pattern. As the needles of the machine were inserted through each of the holes in the cartons, the fibres of the warp were selected and intertwined with the threads of the weave, creating the pattern.

Félix Tonnar Barrau loom
Mechanical loom of the Barrau type to produce velvet with double fabric. It was built by Jaume Llorens i Prats in 1921.

The Barrau loom revolutionised the production of silk velvet. In Catalonia this loom is famous for its adaptation for weaving cotton velvet.

National Museum of Science and Technology of Catalonia
The National Museum of Science and Technology of Catalonia (mNACTEC) is one of the three recognized by the Parliament of Catalonia national museums. Its mission is to permanently show the implementation and development of scientific and technical progress in Catalonia, industrial application and especially their involvement and social impact.

The National Museum of Science and Technology of Catalonia is the product of the rich and lengthy heritage of scientific and technical innovation and knowledge, and the industrial application of this, as developed in this country over the centuries. Although the plans for a museum dedicated to the dissemination of scientific and technical knowledge, vocational development in these two fields and the preservation of the most substantial material records of the technical creativity of humanity, and the most significant objects invented or manufactured in this country, originally dates back to the early 20th century, it was not until 1984 that they were to take shape in the form of this cultural and social landmark museum.

The mNACTEC and its Territorial Structure, closely linked to Catalan industrial society, as an element of national identity and focus, decentralised, innovative, regionally implemented and with the utmost social return and impact, has over the course of 35 years successfully positioned itself as an international flagship and model presenting the uniqueness, specificity and social impact of scientific, technical and industrial culture in Catalonia. Despite the economic difficulties the country finds itself in, the mNACTEC maintains, consolidates and underpins the growth and expansion of this important museum, heritage, cultural and social project with new aims, greater expectations and an even greater dose of renewed enthusiast and interest.

We are in a moment of social change which is forcing us to focus all our efforts in the consolidation of the existing spaces, updating the Museum’s programming, planning new initiatives, ensuring access to a suitable structure, updating and expanding the museumological discourse of the Territorial System when applicable, and encouraging new projects providing incentives which further allow us to become a national museum of note in the new museumology of the 21st century. It should be a modern dynamic museum which must necessarily have major direct involvement in our contemporary society without forgetting its important role in the recovery, conservation and valorization of the scientific, technical and industrial heritage and culture of Catalonia without forgetting the power and drive of our people who, by making this heritage their own, transform the mNACTEC into a living project serving and promoting “the soul” of this society, reminds us where we came from, what we are and where we want to go.