Natural Science Museum of Barcelona, Spain

The Natural Science Museum of Barcelona is a natural history museum located in the city of Barcelona. It is made up of five sites located in different parts of the city: the Natural Science Museum of Barcelona, located in the Forum Building in the Parc del Fòrum, the Botanical Garden of Barcelona and the Historical Botanical Garden, located in the Parc de Montjuïc, and the Martorell Museum and the Nature Laboratory (Castle of the Three Dragons), located in the Parc de la Ciutadella.

The Museum of Natural Sciences of Barcelona is an institution with more than 140 years of history that conserves a heritage of more than three million units in the fields of mineralogy, petrology, paleontology, zoology and botany.

This collection has been enriched year after year by specimens obtained through private donations, agreements with the Zoo and Natural Parks of Catalonia, and also by the Museum itself.

The Museum’s mission is aligned with the Buffon Declaration, agreed in 2007 by 93 natural history institutions (museums, research institutes, botanical gardens, zoos…) in 36 countries and on all continents, which states that the Science is vital for the sustainable management of biodiversity and ecosystems and, through it, for the survival of the human population on this planet.

The Martorell Museum, opened in 1882, was the cradle of the municipal museums of zoology, geology and botany and the origin of the Natural Science Museum of Barcelona. It was created thanks to the legacy of Francesc Martorell i Peña (1822-1878), consisting of his collections of natural sciences and archeology, his library and financial resources to build the museum.

The Museum was part of a project to make Parc de la Ciutadella a space dedicated to the natural sciences, first promoted by the City Council of Barcelona and then by the Commonwealth of Catalonia. In 1906 the City Council created the Municipal Board of Natural Sciences (incorporating the Diputació in 1917 and the Commonwealth in 1920) that managed the centers of the park: the Martorell Museum, the Zoo, the Zootechnical Museum, the Greenhouse and the Umbracle. The Board, led by Josep Maluquer i Nicolau, converted the building of theCastle of the Three Dragons in the Museum of Natural Sciences, called the Catalonia Museum from 1917.

Until the 1920’s, the Museum of Natural Sciences, made up of the Martorell Museum and the Catalonia Museum, was probably the most important Catalan public institution in the field of natural sciences.

In 1935 the Department of Botany separated from the Natural Science Museum giving way to the Barcelona Botanical Institute located in Montjuïc and driven by Pius Font i Quer, which, in the same year, officially created the first “Garden Barcelona Botanist ”in the Sots de la Foixarda de Montjuïc, even if it was not opened until 1941 due to the Civil War.

Later, in order to prepare for the Montjuïc Olympic Games and the 1992 Olympic Games, the Botanic Gardens had to be closed in 1986 and did not open again until 2003. In the meantime, another botanical garden had been opened in 1999, the new Botanical Garden of Barcelona, also located in Montjuïc. The former garden from the 1930/1940s was renamed the Historic Botanical Garden when it was reopened in 2003. In 1998, the Botanical Institute became a mixed center of the CSIC and the City Hall of Barcelona.

In 2000, the Museums of Zoology and Geology were merged under the name Museum of Natural Sciences of the Citadel. In 2008 the reunification process was continued with the integration of the Botanic Gardens. A stable working relationship was also established with the Botanical Institute in the area of public programs and administration.

In 2010 it was announced the transfer of various collections from Ciutadella Park to the Forum building located in Forum Park, which was later renamed the Blue Museum. On November 23, 2010, the creation of the Consortium of the Natural Science Museum of Barcelona, approved by the Generalitat of Catalonia and the Barcelona City Council, was approved.

The Forum headquarters opened its doors on March 27, 2011. On the opening day it was visited by 6,300 visitors.

On July 12, 2011 the installation of the whale ‘s skeleton, an emblematic piece of the Museum, was completed in a free access area, above the entrance stairs. This corresponds to a whale skeleton that 11 June 1862 beaching the beach of Llançà. The skeleton was preserved and in 1917 it was moved to the Martorell Museum, the first headquarters of the Natural Science Museum in Barcelona. In 1925 it was moved to the building of the Three Dragons Castle, then the museum’s headquarters. This is a cetacean weighing about a ton and almost 20 meters long, shown in the position taken by the cetaceans when diving, more realistically than the position it presented in the Castle of the Three Dragons. During the restoration and assembly process, the jaw was remodeled and replicates of the missing intervertebral discs were added, which increased the skeleton by about 2 meters.

In November 2011, the Minister of Culture Ferran Mascarell and the Deputy Mayor of Culture of the Barcelona City Council, Jaume Ciurana, signed an agreement stating that from 2014 the Generalitat de Catalunya will join the project of the Museum of Natural Sciences of Barcelona, with the aim of making it a national museum of natural sciences.

At the end of 2017 the name “Museu Blau” was stopped being used to integrate it into the Museum of Natural Sciences of Barcelona. The main building of the museum is expected to have a green roof by 2019.

The Natural Science Museum of Barcelona is distributed in different venues located in three spaces in Barcelona: Ciutadella Park, Montjuïc Mountain and the Forum Park.

The first are the Martorell Museum and the Nature Laboratory, while in Montjuïc there is the Botanic Gardens and the Historical Botanic Gardens. In the Parc del Fòrum the Museum of Natural Sciences of Barcelona, where the facilities destined mainly to public programs are lodged: exhibitions, factories, conferences, media library, etc.

Museum of Natural Sciences of Barcelona, (formerly the Blue Museum): Headquarters of the Museum’s Public Programs. Permanent exhibition Planeta vida, a journey through the history of life and evolution. It houses temporary exhibitions, an assembly hall, classrooms, a space for children 0-6 years old (Science Nest), workshops and a media library.
Martorell Museum: Historic headquarters. It will host in the future the permanent exhibition A History Not So Natural: The Audiences and the Natural Sciences, from Cabinets to Museums. It will be a space for reflection to reconsider and review the history of scientific culture in the city of Barcelona. There is also a representation space for the Ciutadella Park.
Nature Lab: Scientific headquarters since 2010, in the building of the Castle of the Three Dragons: The former “Museum of Zoology of Barcelona” is since 2010 a space for research, study and conservation of collections of the museum. The documentation center is being set up, a specialty library and the space will also be giving rise to a sound library, Natura Sonora.
Botanical Garden of Barcelona: Botanical headquarters and activities and public exhibitions. A reference center for the conservation of Mediterranean flora. Collection of living plants and seeds. The various gardens recreate the natural ecosystems of parts of the world with a Mediterranean climate.

Permanent exhibition
Life Planet: This is a permanent exhibition focused on the theory of Gaia evolution by biologist James Lovelock. The visitor can explore the earth in its beginnings and during its evolution and the current state. The “laboratories of life” coexist with the fossils preserved by the various educational centers. The permanent exhibition is centered on the theory of evolution of Gaia, by biologist James Lovelock, who understands the Earth as a living being. The exhibition is divided into three areas, the first of which is called “The Biography of the Earth”, which explains the origin of the Universe.and the formation of our planet from two large-format projections, as well as several pieces and audiovisuals with valuable complementary information. The reference exhibition, entitled Planeta Vida, is complemented by the so-called Science Islands, of which four are already open (nine are planned) and are dedicated to specific topics on nature and their relationship with humans, such as Evolution, Classification and the Nomenclature, Animal Behavior and the Mediterranean. The “Earth Today” section, 1,700 square meters, tells us about the current state of the Earth and its geological and biological diversity. It exhibits in a didactic way and through touch screens and display cases the traditional collection of the museum – fossils, naturalized animals, plants, algae, minerals and rocks – which also include areas dedicated to fungi and the microscopic world (with reproductions of viruses and microbes). There are 4,500 of the museum’s 3 million pieces on display. The visitor can explore the earth in its beginnings and during its evolution and the current state.
The Museum’s collections comprise more than three million specimens. They include plants, lichens, fungi, animals, sounds, fossils, minerals and rocks collected and preserved for more than three centuries. They are of particular scientific importance and are a must for taxonomic and systematic research, they are reference collections. They group a great diversity of species of Catalan and international scope and contain numerous specimens, those that have been used to describe new taxa. The major reference works on Catalan flora, fauna and geology are based mainly on the materials preserved in these collections. One of the collections has special historical significance, with ancient specimens dating from the 17th to 19th centuries, this is the Salvador Natural History Office, it is the oldest in Catalonia, preserved and exhibited at the IBB. The legacy ofFrancesc Martorell was the seed for the creation of the Natural Science Museum of Barcelona.

The institution has its own scientific area, made up of the Collections, Research and Documentation Center departments. The Museum participates in research projects with other public institutions, such as the CSIC and universities, both domestic and foreign, while developing its own projects, in relation to the collections it has and to objectives applied in the nearby territory.

The Museum publishes several scientific publications:

Animal Biodiversity and Conservation
Archives of Zoological Miscellany
Monographs of the Museum of Natural Sciences
Works of the Geology Museum of Barcelona
Zoological Miscellany
Works of the Museum of Zoology
Publications of the Board of Natural Sciences