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.
A LANDMARK BUILDING
The building housing the National Museum of Science and Technology of Catalonia, the Vapor Aymerich, Amat i Jover, represents the finest work of modernist industrial architecture anywhere in Catalonia. Designed by the architect Lluís Muncunill i Parellada (Sant Vicenç de Fals, 1868 - Terrassa, 1931), construction work on the factory began on Rambla d'Ègara in 1907, and it opened for business just over a year later. The Vapor (the name given to the factory because of the steam engines that provided its power), covered the entire industrial process of wool transformation, from the delivery of the fleeces to the finished textiles exiting the factory gate.
The National Museum of Science and Technology of Catalonia covers a total surface area of 22,200 m2, 11,000 m2 of which corresponds to the former rectangular shopfloor section of the Vapor Aymerich, Amat i Jover. This large hall, where the Museum’s main exhibitions are now set up, is covered by a peculiar sawtooth-shaped ceiling. The traditional straight lines of this type of roof were, however, reinterpreted by the architect, Muncunill, with 161 Catalan vaults made from flat bricks with a bell-shaped form, supported by 300 cast iron pillars, which also served as the downspouts and support for the driveshafts, the devices that transmitted power from the steam engine to all the machines in the factory.