FE > Design > Research activities: visiting the mNACTEC (Barcelona)

Muriel Garreta Domingo murielgd at uoc.edu
Wed May 20 13:39:07 UTC 2009


Continuing the initial visits to different museum types in Barcelona, on
Monday I visited the national (at Catalan level) museum of science and
technology (mNACTEC).

*A network of museums*

The creation of today’s National Museum of Science and Technology was an old
Catalan ambition. The Association of Engineers, which drove the project
forward from 1976, had already tried to set up a museum at the end of the
19th century. (*information from the website*).

The museum is part of a network of museums distributed around Catalonia. All
these museums are related to science and technology and more specifically to
the process of industrialisation of Catalonia. A key characteristic of these
museums is that both the content and the building are museum objects.

To be under the "umbrella" of the national museum is a voluntary decision
and therefore there is not formal structure and no hierarchy among the
different 25 museums. However, there is a need to work closely and define
some common guidelines. For that, they have created 8 programs that are led
from different sites; some are mandatory (i.e. educational activities) and
some are optional (i.e. industrial landscape or industrial tourism). One of
the mandatory programs is institutional image. This one belongs to the main
museum (mNACTEC) and defines the website guidelines, a common logo and the
style of the other logos, the merchandising, etc.

These programs as well as other common activities were created to promote
collaboration among the different museums.

Another key element within this strategy, is to form the different staff
members on ICT including new trends and technologies. As a museum of science
and technology, they should be ahead on these issues but they are not yet.

*The building of mNACTEC*

The building that houses the mNACTEC, the Aymerich, Amat and Jover mill, is
an example of Art Nouveau industrial architecture in the country. Designed
by the architect Lluís Muncunill i Parellada, work began on building the
factory in 1907 and it was opened barely a year later.

The mill, (known in Catalan as a Vapor or Steam after the steam engine used
to drive it), contained all the industrial processes to transform wool, from
the moment when the raw wool entered the building to when it left as
finished cloth.
The Museu de la Ciència i de la Tècnica de Catalunya (mNACTEC) has 22.200 m2
of surface area, of which 11.000 m2 correspond to the original rectangular
plan shed of the Aymerich, Amat and Jover mill. This great room, in which
the permanent exhibitions Power, The Textile Mill, Homo Faber and Transport
can be found today, is covered by a special saw-tooth roof.

*Visitor types*

They have 3 patterns of visitor types, depending on the museums:

- 70% children from schools and organized groups, 30% tourists and people
without an organized visit
- 50%, 50%
- 70% tourists and people without an organized visit, 30% children from
schools and organized groups

The public they are aiming now are young adults (20 - 30 something
years-old) and families with young children.

For example, Saturdays are down time and this is something they would like
to change.

The main museum has about 100,000 visitors / year. All the museums together
around 350,000.

*Games and other educational activities: the CERN exhibition and the
activities around it (as part of the International Year of Astronomy)*

The CERN exhibition is based on the activities of this research center in
Switzerland (www.cern.ch <http://www.mnactec.cat/expo/www.cern.ch>) and the
exploration of the beginning of the universe.

Besides the psychical exhibition at mNACTEC, they have built 9 interactive
and virtual games each for one of the 9 phases of creation of the universe.
These games are educational and focus on different activities (work in
groups, empathy games, etc.). They will be launched this June and high
schools will start participating in September. In January high schools with
the highest rankings will go to the different museums for a game on-site.
Therefore, this activity is done on the mNACTEC but also in some of the
other museums that have decided voluntary to join. As a consequence, they
need to recreate the same exhibit and environment for each museum.

They have also worked on an activity for younger children and their parents.
They have turned the more scientific explanation of the process of the
creation of the universe into a children's story. This story has been told
by storytellers at some of the museums on a Saturday afternoon and then kids
had to do a drawing to illustrate the story. Now, they are putting together
all the drawings with the story. Again, this activity has required to have
the same exhibit at different spaces.

Since not all drawings can make it to the story, they would like to find a
way to publish them online and continue creating a community of parents and

There are also activities for schools such a levitation workshop or a
contamination one.

For more information on the exhibition and activities:
It's in Catalan but it has also a virtual map of the exhibition and other
multimedia resources.

*The website*

The museum's website (http://www.mnactec.cat/index.php) has an interactive
map, virtual tours of the exhibitions and, in general, lots of multimedia


A common theme across the different museums I've visited is the need to
differentiate themselves from the ethnology museums. In this case, the do
not only want to do "industrial archeology" but also connect the past with
the present and the future. And in this sense, the ICT are key.

Best regards,
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