The Catalan Navy

Museu Marítim de Barcelona
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Grup Transversal takes a look through the history and protagonists of the Catalan navy

The goal of this exhibition is to answer the question of how Catalonia, given its very small size and limited natural resources and population, became an industrial power in southern Europe and how it contributed to overseas trade with the Americas. Grup Transversal has designed the different areas that make up the exhibition in line with the nuances of these questions, which lie at the heart of the museum’s narrative. The exhibition therefore presents the evolution of the Catalan navy from the 18th century until the 20th century and, at the same time, depicts the evolution of Barcelona and of Catalonia in general, throughout this period.

The result is a thematic-synchronic exhibition (in terms of its formal presentation) in which, however, the themes are represented diachronically. The choice of this fragile combination entailed exhaustive research and work in order to fit solid, coherent themes into a timeline that spans the 18th century to the present day, and even looks towards the future. The visit is divided into seven areas, all with a clear thematic focus but developed in line with the aforementioned timeline. In this exhibition, a careful balance has been sought between the creation of a physical space that contains and brings together the pieces (sailboat rigging, cardboard panelling to simulate a wooden setting, iron pieces and other elements used to create new evocative scenes) while also creating a themed space.

Consequently, this is not only an exhibition about technology and navigation, although these lie at its heart. It’s an exhibition about trade with people placed centre stage: the entrepreneurs who built a new entrepreneurial land. It’s a sociological and socioeconomic project which also looks at the political contexts that enabled trade with America and its decline (with Spain’s loss of Cuba). In short, it aims to be a clearly complex exhibition where the different themes and visions are woven together using partial accounts that help to shape an overall history.