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 Generalitat government of Catalonia, in response to this long-standing Catalan aspiration, published an order to create the Museum.

The Civil War and the subsequent dictatorship under General Franco halted the project, which was consigned to oblivion until the 1960s. 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 Department of Culture of the Regional Government of Catalonia took over the project, and in 1983 purchased the Aymerich, Amat i Jover factory, the former steam-powered woollen textiles mill in Terrassa, for the purpose of converting it into the museum's home. 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 opened its doors, and the restoration work on the main hall of the building was completed.

In 2014 a series of events was staged to mark its 30th anniversary.