Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona

Nat Honourable Mention 2021

Communication NAT Award Nat Award 2021 Nat Honourable Mention 2021

Centre Excursionista de Catalunya

The Centre Excursionista de Catalunya (Hiking Club of Catalonia – CEC) is a cultural and sporting institution founded in 1876 as a fruit of the Renaixença movement. It was established with the aim of promoting hiking as an activity by which to discover and study the natural and cultural heritage of Catalonia. One of its first members was the poet Jacint Verdaguer.

This entity played the role of a people’s university at a time when there were no secondary schools and university access was very restricted. Thus, at the Centre’s headquarters, regular courses were given in many subjects, including geography, geology, and botany.

Publication of the Butlletí del Centre Excursionista de Catalunya began in 1891, and it soon became one of the most widely read periodicals in the region. For naturalists, the Butlletí was where they found the latest news on discoveries of fossil sites or species of plants and animals. The same was true for scholars of archaeology, architecture and folklore, among other subjects.

Members of the CEC, in their private capacity, have been very active donors of collections to the Museum. Indeed, the Museum itself ran courses for them on how to collect items in a way that would make them eligible for admission to the Museum.

The editorial work of the CEC, alongside the Butlletí, deserves special mention. Since its inception the Centre has maintained significant publishing activity, issuing more than 400 volumes, especially on hiking, but also on geology and botany, many of which have been fundamental to the study of natural sciences in Catalonia.

For nearly 150 years now, the CEC has distinguished itself in the defence and preservation of the natural environment. From the very beginning it has promoted respect, knowledge and love for nature, and in 1976 – the year of its centenary celebration – it published a manifesto declaring its active involvement in environmental issues and inviting the public to join in.

The CEC has a general library, a map library, and one of the most important photographic archives in Catalonia, comprising nearly 750,000 images from 1860 to the present day. These photographs cover a wide range of subjects: mountains, plants, animals, architecture, rural life, ethnography, etc.

The Centre Excursionista de Catalunya has been awarded the Gold Medal of the City of Barcelona (1976), the Jaume I Prize of Honour (1981), the Sant Jordi Cross (1983), and the UNESCO medal (1999). In 1997 it was declared an entity of public utility by the Council of Ministers.

Institució Catalana d’Història Natural

The Institució Catalana d’Història Natural (Catalan Institute of Natural History – ICHN), closely linked to the Barcelona Museum of Natural Sciences, is the oldest naturalist institute in Catalonia. It was founded in 1899 by three students under the age of 20: a law student, a pharmacy student, and an engineering student. The objective was to cultivate the natural sciences and promote their study among the young people of Catalonia, through scientific excursions, lectures, and the publication of a bulletin in Catalan.

From the very beginning, the Institute brought professionals and amateurs together to work on projects to advance knowledge of nature and transmit it to wider society. In a few short years, those founding students had become accomplished naturalists, and had made the Institute into a prestigious entity. Some of its members were called to form part of the Municipal Board of Natural Sciences, a body created by the City Council to maintain, develop, and catalogue the natural science archives and collections held in municipal museums, in particular, the Museu Martorell.

The close collaboration between the Institute and the Museum is reflected in the collections and the people. The Museum was enriched by pieces that came from scientific excursions organized by the Institute, and by those of its members who became Museum technicians, such as Ignasi de Sagarra and Joan Baptista d’Aguilar-Amat, among others. And when the Institute became part of the Institut d’Estudis Catalans (Institute for Catalan Studies – IEC) in 1916, it decided to make a donation of all its collections, significantly increasing the Museum’s holdings in all disciplines of the natural sciences.

Alongside the bulletin, other collections were published under the title “Treballs” and “Memòries” (“Papers” and “Reports”), which in many cases set the foundations for research into the natural sciences in Catalonia.

The Institute’s activity was suspended due to the Civil War in Spain, until 1972, when a small group of members decided to revive it. The most important project of this new era was the Llibre Blanc de la Gestió de la Natura (“White Paper on Nature Management”), also called Natura ús o abús? (“Nature Use or Abuse?”), a report on the state of nature in the Catalan territories published in 1976. This collective work, coordinated by the winner of the NAT Award 2020, Ramon Folch, is a benchmark in the world of natural heritage management and conservation, which for the first time laid out the environmental issues affecting our country. An updated version of the “White Paper” with a broader social and environmental focus was published in 2018-2019 through the website, aimed at defining the environmental agenda for Catalonia and showing the need for its application.

The Catalan Institute of Natural History, which received the Sant Jordi Cross in 1999, confers two awards: the Torras-Foulon Prize and the ICHN Grant for Women Naturalists, both for naturalist research on the natural systems of the Catalan territories.