Visiting the MhiC (Barcelona)
Muriel Garreta Domingo
murielgd at uoc.edu
Sun May 10 20:21:05 UTC 2009
Here are my notes from the visit to the MhiC in Barcelona. It was an initial
visit and it the first of a series of visits to some of the museums in the
city and its surroundings.
The Museum of the History of Immigration in Catalonia (MhiC) is in Sant
Adrià de Besòs, a town linked closely to migration and in the outskirts of
It is a very small and unusual museum created in 2003 without a collection
to exhibit. It currently has 2 staff members.
- The museum is located in an old farmhouse with a large garden. Part of
it contains a big vegetable garden.
- The farmhouse is not too large. The first floor has the office spaces
and a meeting room and the second floor is used for temporary collections.
Since the exhibition space is so small, the director didn't want to give it
up for the permanent collection, so she found the solution to place it in a
- The permanent collection is brand new (April 2009). The coach is a
piece by itself since it belonged to the type of trains that immigrants from
the rest of Spain took to move to Barcelona during the 20th century. The
coach has been refurbished and left like it was 70 years ago.
- The collection that the museum currently has has been mainly built with
the help from the surrounding schools. The museum works closely with schools
and it has a standard survey that children have to complete by interviewing
someone from their families who migrated to Barcelona. With these
testimonials gathered by the children and those by the museum staff
themselves they have now a collection of objects and digital media
(pictures, videos and audio).
- For example, the permanent collection in the coach contains lots of
suitcases and sacks, pictures, audio testimonials, videos, etc. It is as if
the visitor was actually doing the trip to Barcelona, which would normally
last more than 24 hours. The goal was to make this experience very
- The current temporary exhibition is a collection of indispensable
objects for the migrants. It was also created with the help of children.
- The museum doesn't have many visitors and that is something they do not
promote. They want to provide individual experiences and they expect
visitors to also bring and leave their testimonials.
- They work closely with children but they want to do the initial work at
schools instead of the museum. They want the kids that come to the museum to
be aware of the migration process, what it meant and what it was, so that
they can value what they see.
- There are also occasional visitors and they open the museum on demand
of those visitors. For example, they opened on a Sunday for a family
reunion. The 18 members of the family original from the South of Spain came
and spent a lot of time in the coach crying and remembering. The coach was
made to create emotional experiences and it has been very successful in this
- They would like to capture these moments that can help them build the
collection of the museum. Although not seriously, they were thinking about
having a "tear holder" to have a souvenir of the visitors.
- They also receive a lot of students on interculturality, immigration,
cultural management, etc. since it is also a resource and documentation
- The website (http://www.mhic.net/) plays a key role. Since they prefer
not to have many people coming to the museum, they want people to use the
website as a source of information and to prepare for the visit.
- The website contains a sets of blogs created by the different schools
that work with the museum. The blogs have a record for each of the students
with text and pictures. This project is called: let's do a museum.
- Website visitors can also fill in a survey to leave their testimonial.
- The technology allows a personalized consumption that is interesting
for preparing the visit. Afterwards, in the museum, the experience is
- They are thinking of adding a new blog called "the visitor of the
month" to keep gathering new testimonials, new stories.
- They also would like to have an easy way to publish the emails they
receive on the website.
- Non-goers is a very interesting group of users to analyze.
- The importance of using technology for this museum is the optimization
of resources and the possibility to gather more feedback from users.
- Since a lot of information and documentation is already being created
around the issue of migration, they do not need to produce but they need the
license to use all this material.
- They also do other activities such as a jazz concert, a gathering of
women about the theme is "traveling women".
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