The MNACTEC was set up in 1984 in response to a long-standing demand

The desire to set up a science and technology museum in Catalonia dates back to the late 19th century. In 1937, the Republican Autonomous Government issued an order to set up a Catalan industrial museum, in response to this long-standing ambition.

The Civil War and subsequent Franco dictatorship put paid to the project, which was then forgotten up until the late 1970s. At that time, the Association of Industrial Engineers of Catalonia revived the project to found a museum of science and technology, and in 1979 set up the Association of the Museum of Science and Technology and Industrial Archaeology of Catalonia, with the aim of combining their efforts to create the Museum and preserve industrial heritage assets.

In 1981, the Culture Department of the Autonomous Government of Catalonia took up the project, and in 1983 purchased the Aymerich, Amat i Jover factory, a former steam-powered woollen mill in Terrassa, with the aim of using it as the site for the museum, opening the former factory to the public in 1984. The Museums Act of 2 November 1990 declared it a National Museum, and it was established as an autonomous entity. In 1996 the first permanent exhibition, "Enérgeia", opened its doors, and the restoration work on the main hall of the building was completed. A series of permanent exhibitions were subsequently opened to the public over the years ("The Textile Mill", "The Human Body", "The Computer Enigma", etc.).

In 1998, a Decree was issued to create the MNACTEC Territorial Structure, an innovative and unique museum system covering the whole of Catalonia.

In the early 21st century the new entrance to the museum was conditioned, together with the restaurant, access to the terrace and a viewing platform, along with the addition of the photovoltaic wall, a strikingly distinctive object at the time. The Museum Documentation Centre was likewise set up.

In 2014 the Museum lost its own autonomous administrative status, to become part of the new Catalan Cultural Heritage Agency. Since then, new exhibition spaces have been added (Arts Space, MNACTEC Treasures and Made in Catalonia), along with improvements to the organisation of the Territorial Structure and the transfer of the storage rooms to the new location in Cervera.