Three hundred years of Catalan shipping (18th-20th centuries) explains how a small country that had a scarcity of natural resources and a small population in the early 18th century become an industrial power in southern Europe in the 19th century, and how this contributed to maritime trade with America. The exhibition also explains how trade and shipbuilding helped to bring about Catalonia’s great transformation and modernisation in the 19th century and examines the way it changed people’s relationship with the sea.
The exhibition starts in the early 18th century when, after the War of Succession, with all of its governing institutions abolished, Catalonia was an impoverished country that had been ravaged by war. But within the space of two generations, Catalonia experienced a demographic and economic growth that enabled the country not only to emerge from its stagnation, but also to take a leap forward.
Based at Barcelona’s Board of Trade, created in 1758, the historical researcher Antoni de Capmany (who is now considered a pioneer in European economic historiography) showed that Catalonia was a country with a deeply-rooted tradition of sailing, trade and industry, and that this entrepreneurial tendency, now encouraged by a highly dynamic industrial structure, could help to re-initiate a cycle of progress and generate wealth around the land. The country’s seagoing past would become an even more valuable asset, and progress would arrive, once again, by sea.
Among the most emblematic items in the Museu Marítim’s collections on show there are the painting Nouvelle description de la Fameuse Ville de Barcelone cappitalle de la province de Catalogne (19th century), a model of the frigate Mataró, dated to the last quarter of the 18th century, a model of the frigate Barcelona, from the second half of the 19th century, a cabinet for transporting goods from the 18th century, a model of the merchant frigate Diputación, from the second half of the 19th century, a model of the Ictíneo II, produced by the Museu Marítim workshop (1960), a spectacular model of the floating and deponent dock (1929), the painting Moll de Sant Bertran, Port de Barcelona, by A. Casals (1912), a model of the mail steamboat Infanta Isabel de Borbón, from 1913, and the “Catboat” or llagut the Jean et Marie.
An audioguide in eight languages is available to visitors to the exhibition at no extra cost. The audioguide contains information on the items on display in all the exhibition spaces.