National Museum of Science and Technology of Catalonia, Terrassa, Spain

The Museum of Science and Technology of Catalonia, also known with the acronym mNACTEC, is a museum whose mission is to promote the knowledge of scientific, technical culture industrial and, at the same time, conserve, study and show the evolution of scientific and technical advances in Catalonia, paying special attention to its industrial application and its social impact.

Museum of Science and Technology of Catalonia is one of the three national museums in Catalonia according to the Law on Museums (Law 17/1990 of November 2), and depends on the Department of Culture of the Generalitat de Catalunya.

The museum’s headquarters is in Terrassa (Vallès Occidental), in an old textile factory on the Egara boulevard: the Vapor Aymerich, Amat and Jover. The building, designed by the architect Lluís Muncunill and built between 1907 and 1908, is considered one of the main examples of modernist industrial architecture in Catalonia. The name steam comes from the use of the steam engine as a driving force. The old textile factory’s industrial spaces are still preserved and are one of the museum’s main attractions.

In addition to its headquarters in Terrassa, the museum has three venues: the Asland Cement Museum in Castellar de n’Hug, the Sedó Colony Museum in Esparreguera and the Forge Palace in Ripoll.

Museum of Science and Technology of Catalonia articulates the Territorial System of mNACTEC, a network of 26 museums and heritage spaces to learn about and interpret industrialization in Catalonia.

Vapor Aymerich, Amat i Jover is an old textile factory located on the Rambla d’Égara in Terrassa, built between 1907 and 1908, which currently houses the Museum of Science and Technology of Catalonia. The work of the architect Lluís Muncunill, is considered the most important modernist industrial building in Catalonia. The name steam comes from the use of the steam engine as a driving force.

The original industrial complex consists of: a large production warehouse of 11,000 m²; a three-body annex building intended to house the boiler room, steam engine room and electricity workshop; a patio; the fireplace 42 meters high, and the office building facing the boulevard.

Architecturally, the roof stands out. It consists of 161 flat brick vaults, which are combined with skylights by adopting the sawtooth system, and is supported by 300 iron columns. cast.

Founded in 1908 by three industrialists from Terrassa – José Aymerich i Grané, Pau Amat i Boguñà and Francesc Jover Barba – the factory hosted the whole process of transforming wool and producing the so-called “novelties” of woolen fabrics. From 1920, yarn was moved to Fígols and the factory specialized in weaving, leasing some of its space to other companies. In 1962 the building was seriously affected by the floods of Terrassa. The factory finally collapsed in 1976. The building was purchased by the Generalitat de Catalunya in 1983 and, after being refurbished, became the headquarters of the Science and Technology Museum of Catalonia.

The building was declared a Cultural Asset of National Interest (BCIN), in the category of Historic Monument, by the Government of the Generalitat of Catalonia on June 4, 2019.

The desire to create a science and technology museum in Catalonia began in the late nineteenth century. In 1937, in response to this old Catalan aspiration, the Republican Generalitat published an order to create the Museum. The Civil War and the subsequent dictatorship of General Franco interrupted the project, which remained forgotten until the 1970’s.

In 1976, the Association of Industrial Engineers of Catalonia took the initiative to found a science and technology museum, and in 1979 they formed the Association of the Museum of Science and Technology and Industrial Archeology of Catalonia with the aim of gathering efforts to create the Museum and preserve the assets of the industrial heritage.

In 1981, the Ministry of Culture of the Generalitat de Catalunya took on the project and in 1983 bought the Aymerich, Amat i Jover factory, in order to make it the museum’s headquarters, and in 1984 opened the factory at public. The Museum Law of November 2, 1990, was declared National Museum and constituted it as an autonomous entity. In 1996 the first permanent exhibition was inaugurated and the restoration of the main nave of the building was completed.

The project was devised and developed from 1983 to 2013 by Eusebi Casanellas Rahola. It is currently directed by Jaume Perarnau i Llorens.

MNACTEC’s collections bring together more than 20,000 scientific, technical and industrial objects (production goods and consumer goods). The Museum is primarily interested in objects designed or manufactured in Catalonia, but also those that have had an impact on Catalan society or have represented a breakthrough in a particular technology.

The fields represented in the mNACTEC collections are: Home Appliances; Graphic arts; Computer, electronics and telecommunications; Energy; Science, experimentation and measurement; Medicine; Productive sectors and services; Audiovisual technologies; Transportation, and Others.

The Museum’s exhibits show only 10% of the objects in the collections; the rest of the pieces are kept in the mNACTEC reserve rooms, which occupy approximately 7,000 m² and are divided into three different spaces: two of the reserve rooms are located in the same Museum, in Terrassa, and the third one is in a industrial building in Cervera (la Segarra).

The two internal reserves conserve about 17,000 pieces of small size. The Cervera reservoir contains a thousand objects, most of them large and tonnage items, such as steam engines, textile, graphic arts, hydropower, and various modes of transport..

Permanent exhibitions
MNACTEC is currently hosting the following permanent exhibitions:

“The Textile Factory” – Shows the entire process of manufacturing woolen fabrics in the original context of a factory in the early 20th century.
“Energy”: a tour of the different sources of energy as engines of human activity and industrialization.
“The riddle of the computer”: one of the largest computer collections in Europe and the most complete in Catalonia.
“Viva Montesa”: a journey through the history of the Catalan brand of Montesa motorcycles through 67 motorcycles, three bicycles and two motors from the Pere Permanyer Collection.
“The transport”: a collection of cars, trucks, engines, planes, motorcycles and bicycles that allows us to trace the history of transport from its inception to the present day.
“The human body. Who am I?”: An exhibition aimed at children that presents the human body and its functioning from an interactive point of view.
“Homo Faber”: exhibition that shows the evolution of science and technology from the Neolithic revolution to the beginning of industrialization.
“Lluís Muncunill, architecture for industry”: exhibition dedicated to the figure of Lluís Muncunill (1868-1931), architect of the Vapor Aymerich, Amat i Jover, headquarters of the mNACTEC, and a reference in the industrial architecture of Terrassa.
“EVERYTHING IS CHEMICAL”: shows that he wants to make known the contribution of chemistry to today’s quality of life.
“Public Waters from Mine of Terrassa”: exhibition to know the arrival of water to the population of Terrassa.
“LHC: Exploring the Origins of the Universe” – exhibition to bring the general public closer to particle physics and the origin of the universe.

n addition to the permanent and temporary exhibitions, mNACTEC has several spaces and experiences that complement the museographic discourse:

Coals, boilers, fireplaces and steam engines: On the basement of the museum, you can visit the energy spaces that were at the heart of the old textile factory.
The mNACTEC Photochrome: a chroma installation that combines images of visitors with scenes from the industrial heritage of Terrassa
Mentora Alsina Experimental Physics Laboratory – An exhibition space that recreates a laboratory from the early 20th century.
The Faraday cage: space where demonstrations are seen as high voltage electric shocks occur.
The sun terrace: an interactive space located on the terrace of the Museum to study the energy of the sun and its use.
The photovoltaic facade: Located outdoors, it is constituted by a system that converts the energy of solar radiation into electrical energy thanks to the photovoltaic effect.
Transport workshop: a space where children can get acquainted with the basic rules of circulation and means of transport.
The railway model: Joaquim Gili’s railway model, restored by the Terrassa Railway Club, which consists of 400 linear meters of track.
The mNACTEC Carillon consists of 13 chromatically tuned bronze bells with a total weight of 1,367 kg.

MNACTEC Territorial System
MNACTEC heads the Territorial System of mNACTEC, a museum proposal that explains the different spheres and processes of industrial society throughout Catalonia and where they have occurred most significantly. It is currently comprised of 26 independent museums and heritage centers, which together aim to explain industrialization in Catalonia.

Museums and heritage centers that integrate the territorial structure of mNACTEC:
Museum of the Sedó Colony (Esparreguera)
Forge Palau (Ripoll)
Asland Cement Museum (Castellar de n’Hug)
Paper Mill Museum (Capellades)
Leather Museum of Igualada and Anoia County (Igualada)
Museum of Cork (Palafrugell)
Museum of the Railway of Catalonia (Vilanova i la Geltrú)
Museum of the Mines (Cercs)
Ecomuseu-Farinera (Castelló d’Empúries)
Museum of the Ter (Manlleu)
Technical Museum (Manresa)
Museum of the Vidal Colony (Puig-reig)
Sawmill of Àreu (Alins)
Salvador Claret Car Collection (Sils)
Museum of the Mines (Bellmunt del Priorat)
Torneria Museum (Torelló)
Fassina Balanyà (the Espluga de Francolí)
Museum of Gerri de la Sal (Gerri de la Sal)
Museum of Ceramics “La Rajoleta” (Esplugues de Llobregat)
Capdella Hydroelectric Museum (the Torre de Cabdella)
Cultural Park of the Salt Mountain (Cardona)
Cal Trepat Agricultural Mechanization Museum (Tàrrega)
Railway Interpretation Center (Móra la Nova)
The Thermal Rock Umbert (Granollers)
Museum of the Oil of Catalonia (La Granadella)