The Failed Technology Museum of Catalonia

Engineers and the Politics of the Musealization of Technology in Barcelona (1929–1939)

in Nuncius
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In March 1937, the Technology Museum of Catalonia was created by a governmental order, but it never materialized. How come was a national museum of technology perceived as an urgent need in the midst of the Spanish Civil War? This article explores how this failed attempt was rooted in the long-standing political interest of the engineering community in the musealization of technology in Barcelona. On the one hand, it analyses the tradition of technological display aimed at increasing industrial productivity and improving technical education. On the other hand, it studies the techno-nationalist efforts by engineers to construct a respectable technological past for the nation through display. Finally, it explores how these two approaches would have been articulated in the Technology Museum of Catalonia in the context of the key role played by engineering professionals during the Spanish Civil War.

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    Figure 1

    Raw materials and models of steam engines at the museum of the Barcelona School of Industrial Engineering in 1878 (bottom left) and 1910 (top left). A commercial stand in the Catalan Industry Exhibition in 1877 (right)

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    Figure 2

    The big hammer of the Catalan forge at the shadowy room of the Electricity and Metallurgy Palace (bottom) and an illustration depicting the workers of a forge (top)

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    Figure 3

    Propaganda posters of the main labour-unions in Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War. Left: “Comrade: work intensively to demonstrate your anti-fascism!” (CNT). Right: “Technicians are the best guarantee of economic victory!” (UGT)

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