On the 27th of March 2011, the Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona (Natural Science Museum of Barcelona) opened, in the Parc del Fòrum (Forum Park), a new venue to rejuvenate the Museum’s museographic discourse and its educational and outreach programmes. These new premises boast modern facilities and services structured around a huge, open-access foyer, as well as a permanent exhibition, “Planeta Vida” (‘Planet Life’), temporary exhibition areas, the Media Library, the Science Nest (for children up to 6 years of age), lecture rooms, an auditorium and a shop.
Last year, the Museum grew again by adding a Living Terrace, a wild, green area covering 7,100 m2 of the roof, which has now become an integral part of the facility and its activities.
To date, over a million people have visited and enjoyed the activities and services offered by this great cultural venue which is now in its 10th year at the Forum Park.
To celebrate, the Museum is holding an Open Day on Saturday, 27th March, and then on the 10th of every month up to the end of the year (with the exception of May, when it will be held on Tuesday, the 11th). What’s more, throughout
Surprise 1: The Salvador Cabinet island
This new display (island) is a life-size replica of the Cabinet of Curiosities created by the Salvador family, the original of which can be found at the Botanical Institute of Barcelona, and it complements the Museum’s permanent exhibition together with the other science islands. Science islands are independent spaces, like small displays within the permanent exhibition, which are distributed all along the route.
The Salvador family produced many brilliant apothecaries and naturalists who, for three centuries (1626-1855), kept a cabinet of curiosities at their pharmacy on Carrer Ample in Barcelona.
A cabinet of curiosities was an office but also an exhibition which only a select few were allowed to visit. The aim was to enhance people’s appreciation of nature, as well as their admiration for the owners of such collections due to their knowledge, power and understanding of the world. Such cabinets of curiosities were very popular in Europe from the Renaissance up to the Enlightenment, playing a fundamental role in the study and dissemination of natural science for three centuries.
In general, cabinets of curiosities were brimming with objects from the three kingdoms of nature, covering the ceiling, ground and walls and filling the drawers and shelves. As well as specimens, there would also be a library and the necessary instruments to preserve the collections.
Thanks to this life-size replica of the Salvador Cabinet and the objects displayed in it, the general public can now experience the same sensations as those privileged few who, many years ago, were fortunate enough to be allowed to visit it, discovering the work involved in keeping such a collection and getting to know the scientific controversies of the time related to fossils and other specimens, before Charles Darwin proposed his theory of evolution.
After visiting the replica of the Salvador Cabinet in the Forum Park, it is highly recommended to pay a visit to the original cabinet on display at the Botanical Institute of Barcelona.
Surprise 2: Free admission to the Living Terrace throughout April
If you have never been to the Museum’s Living Terrace, take advantage and visit it this April, because:
- Admission is free every weekend throughout the month. Guided tours on Saturday afternoons, of limited capacity, will also be free of charge. Make a prior reservation here.
The Museum’s Living Terrace is one of several new spaces that the Museum has gained over its 10 years of history at the Forum, and is one of the largest green roofs in Barcelona.
A living space where you will find vegetation suited to the changeable weather conditions. A green roof where you can enjoy reconnecting with nature.
The Living Terrace comprises 7,100 m2 of flora adapted to the Mediterranean climate of Barcelona and, specifically, to its close proximity to the sea. It is distributed over three meadows and three freshwater ponds. The project has been carried out within the framework of the Climate Emergency Declaration and Climate Plan approved by Barcelona City Council.
There is also an insect hotel.
Sorpise 3: (In)Visibles i (O)Cultes, a new temporary exhibition
(In)Visibles i (O)Cultes (‘Invisible and Hidden / Visible and Learned’) brings to the fore 24 female scientists from all eras and all corners of the world.
(In)Visibles i (O)Cultes is a temporary exhibition focusing on 24 female scientists who, from Ancient Egypt to 21st-century Great Britain, have been silenced, relegated or directly erased from the history of science because of their gender. This exhibition, produced by the Natural Science Museum of Barcelona and curated by Mireia Alcaine, can be seen at the free exhibition area Ciènciaimés until May 2022.
The earliest known female physician in history, Peseshet (Egypt, 2,400 BC), the astronomer Aglaonice (Greece, 200 BC) and the botanist Blanca Catalana de Ocón (Spain, 1860-1904), among many others, have had to wait many years and even centuries to regain their voice thanks to historical revisionism from a gender perspective that began in the second half of the 20th century and has become unrelenting in the 21st
To combat this discrimination, 2016 saw the creation of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science (11 February) to commemorate and recognise the achievements of all women who have helped to advance science and technology.
For reasons of space, this exhibition has not been able to include all female scientists who have been overlooked. There are many more and they all need to be brought to light, acknowledged, named and returned to their right place in the history of science.