Martorell Exhibition Center. Nature or Culture?. 2023 — Museography

While we were immersed in the whirlwind of the installation of the Nativity Scene at Plaza Sant Jaume, our focus was on the completion of the setup for a temporary exhibition at the Centre Martorell d’Exposicions – the former mineralogy museum in Barcelona's Parc de la Ciutadella – previously known as Museu Martorell. On December 19th, the museum reopened its doors to the public with the NAT's first in-house production exhibition, for which I was responsible for the design.

"Nature or Culture?" is the title of the exhibit that I began designing approximately three years ago, a project that has undergone significant evolution and, after some changes in direction, has materialized as a temporary exhibition aimed at narrating the history of natural history museums and their evolution over the years.

From the early cabinets of curiosities to the challenges posed by the climate crisis, the exhibit "Nature or Culture?" explores the ideological evolution of institutions that have interpreted the world of natural sciences. It delves into how the colonialist – and at times, racist – approach of the early cabinets has evolved to the present day, where the focus has shifted to global emergencies and their impact on society.

"Nature or Culture?" is a constant dialogue between the local experience of our science museums and the global evolution of museums worldwide.

The space reclaims the fully restored building and hosts the inaugural exhibition, produced by the Natural Science Museum of Barcelona. The challenge, scenographically, has been to create an exhibition design that engages in a constant dialogue with the historic building.

Some of the original furniture and showcases from the former Museu Martorell have been restored and coexist with contemporary exhibition design that incorporates new technologies to explain the past and, in this way, look towards the future with a shadow of uncertainty.

The most endearing piece of the exhibition is the skeleton of the elephant "l’avi" (the grandfather), one of the first inhabitants of the Barcelona Zoo.


Promoter institution: Natural Science Museum of Barcelona, NAT (Icub, Barcelona Town Hall)

Location: Barcelona (Spain)

Photography: © Pepo Segura