{Spain} Museu Moto

June 18, 2012

Spain

Museu Moto

Museu Moto

The Museu Moto hadn’t been on my Barcelona list, I stumbled upon it whilst trying to find the Shoe Museum. And I’m glad I did, as it turned out to be way more interesting that I had imagined, and very well laid out and presented (though they obviously weren’t expecting visitors first thing in the morning, as they were still hoovering and mopping the back end of the museum whilst I started my visit in the front end^^).

The museum opened in 2011 and, as the city with the biggest number of motorbikes per inhabitant in Europe, Barcelona seems a logical location for it. Covering 600 square meters of exhibition space, the museum aims to spread all aspects of motorbiking culture through its permanent display and a programme of temporary special exhibitions.

Starting with ‘Pioneers’, the first section covers 1905 – 1936 and includes important milestones of the early fledgeling industry, such as the first motorbike every to be manufactured in Spain by Barcelona engineer Villalbí with a grand total of five units. It was to be over ten years until other brands followed. Backdrops with reproductions of selected newspaper articles, adverts, and photographs of early bikes in action, as well as a display case with copies of early motoring magazines, set the scene. But centre stage goes to the beautiful early 20th century motorbikes, that evoke a feeling of nostalgia and transported me right back to watching ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ at the cinema. Definitely something I don’t think only motorbike enthusiasts would enjoy.

Villalbí Motorbike

Villalbí Motorbike

‘Post War’ covers the period 1940 – 1960, and whilst the machines start looking less nostalgic, there are still some real beauties on display. You also ge an insight into the fragile economy at the time, which prompted entrepreneurs to come up with useful and economic mobility solutions which resulted in a remarkable industrial network in Catalonia. The 1960 and 1970s were considered the golden age for Catalonia brands, several of which reached international acclaim, though sadly many of them had closed down by the 1980s. This is where the more modern motorbikes, including off road models, come into the display, which I admittedly found less interesting, or rather less attractive, than the earlier historic ones.

Off Road Bikes

Off Road Bikes

The permanent display also covers the auxiliary motorbike industry, which produced components covering everything from  headlights and shock absorbers, to helmets, boots and sidecars. A further point of interest was that the 1980s offered room for small firms to specialise in off road bikes by assembling different components from different origins. Old catalogues, manuals and component parts complete the display. Another highlight of the museum is the ca. 10 minute long film showing historical footage of motorbikes being manufactured and assembled, as well as old TV adverts and footage of a motorbike race.

Auxiliary Industries

Auxiliary Industries

1950s Side Car

1950s Side Car

The current temporary exhibition, which is also the museum’s first, is dedicated to the history of motorbikes in Catalonia specifically, where 196 different brands were manufactured between 1905 and 2010, including 56 different racing bikes. In fact, Catalonia has a great track record in motorbike racing, e.g. Derbi is the most internationally rewarded brand in the World Speed Championships, and Alex Crivillé won the 125cc World Championship in 1989 in his first attempt riding for JJ Cobas . The exhibition covers all the most famous and important Catalonian brands, grouping machines of the same brand but from different years together, which nicely shows how the brands have changed over time. Significant mergers and buy outs also get a mention, and there are a couple of machines from the police force too.

Derbi Bikes Through The Ages

Derbi Bikes Through The Ages

Whether or not you are particularly interested in motorbikes, Museu Moto gives a unique insight in to the history of one of Catalonia’s most significant industries. And it’s really evident throughout the museum that, despite the knocks the industry has taken over te years, the Catalonians are really proud of it. So don’t wait until you get lost trying to find your way somewhere else, give the Museu Moto a chance!

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  1. Museu Olímpic i de l’Esport | Museum Diary - July 27, 2012

    […] the museum has one section dedicated entirely to this. Other museums I’d visited, such as the Motor Museum and the Shoe Museum, had already made it clear that Catalonia is very proud of it’s history […]

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