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Façana del Museu Martorell al Parc de la Ciutadella

The NAT what we are


The Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona is an institution with a long track record. Its origins date back to the end of the 19th century when the collections bequeathed to the city by the naturalist Francesc Martorell i Peña laid the foundations for what was to become Barcelona’s first public museum.

From the 19th to the 21st century

From the Museu Martorell to the Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona

The origins of Catalonia’s public natural history museums are closely linked to Barcelona’s two large urban parks: Ciutadella and Montjuïc.

Fontserè’s plan for Ciutadella Park envisaged an ensemble of buildings to be used for providing the cultural services every modern city should have. One of the first to be built, between 1878 and 1882, was the Museu Martorell formerly the Museu de Geologia), designed by architect Antoni Rovira i Trias, for housing the material bequeathed by Martorell.

Also erected at the same time were the first Hivernacle (glasshouse) and the Umbracle (shade house), along with other science facilities situated throughout the park. In 1906 the Ajuntament de Barcelona (City Council) created the Municipal Board of Natural History, responsible for managing the Museu Martorell, the Zoo, the Museu Zootecnic, the Glasshouse and the Shade House, and for introducing labelling of the plants in the park.

Josep Maluquer i Nicolau was the Secretary General of the Board of Natural History and very quickly transformed the Exhibition restaurant building, the Castell dels Tres Dragons, into the Museu de Biologia (which up until now was the Museu de Zoologia), setting the scientific and museological standards that would lead to our present situation.

In 1930 the Jardí Botànic was created in the Sots de la Foixarda area, which provided a better, more suitable location than where it was situated at the time. The Institut Botànic was established in 1935 and arose out of the Botany Department of the Museu de Ciències Naturlas. It was one of the first research centres of the new Generalitat (Catalan government) and was instrumental in the recovery of the Salvador Cabinet of Natural History.

Finally, with the 1992 Olympic Games on the horizon, the City Council decided to expand the Jardí Botànic at the Foixarda site. So a call for ideas was held in 1989, which culminated in the inauguration of the new Botanical Garden in 1999. The process concluded in 2003 with the inauguration of the new building erected by theConsell Superior d’Investigacions Científiques (Council for Scientific Research) (CSIC), which was to be the definitive headquarters for the Institut Botànic de Barcelona. Also, in 1998 the Institut Botànic became a centre managed jointly by the CSIC and Ajuntament de Barcelona.

In the year 2000 the Museu de Zoologia and Museu de Geologia were unified under the name Museu de Ciències Naturals de la Ciutadella. In 2008 the reunification process continued with the inclusion of the Jardí Botànic, and a stable working relationship was also established with the Institut Botànic in the field of public programmes and administration.

2011 saw the opening of the Museum’s new headquarters – Museu Blau – in the Forum Park ( currently the Natural Sciences Museum of Barcelona).