The history of the Martorell Museum dates back to 1878 when the naturalist Francesc Martorell i Peña bequeathed his natural science and archaeology collections to the city, as well as a financial sum to build a museum to house them all. The architect Antoni Rovira i Trias designed this neoclassical building, which was inaugurated in 1882. The collections expanded continuously and eventually outgrew the museum. So, in 1924, the Martorell Museum began to focus exclusively on geology, with the zoological collections being transferred to the neighbouring Castle of the Three Dragons and the botanical collections to Montjuïc. The Geology Museum closed to the public in 2010.
The origin of the Natural Science Museum of Barcelona is closely linked to Ciutadella Park. To design the park, the architect Josep Fontserè took his inspiration from the urban layout of the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, conceived to house a number of facilities for cultural services of a scientific nature, as befits a modern capital city. One of the first buildings to be constructed was the Martorell Museum, opening its doors in 1882. The Hibernaculum, the Shade House, the Zoo, as well as other scientific venues, were also built at the same time.