Visiting the MhiC (Barcelona)

Muriel Garreta Domingo murielgd at
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 space*

   - 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
   train carriage.
   - 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*

   - 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 visitors*

   - 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*

   - The website ( 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.

*Others issues*

   - 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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