5 August 2010

CosmoCaixa - Barcelona's Science Museum

Not visited by many tourists is the CosmoCaixa Science Museum in Barcelona.  The reason for this is that the website is only in Català and Castellano, making it a little difficult for other-language speakers to find out much about it.  This is a disservice to the museum, as it truly is spectacular and worth visiting.  It's an activity to do on a rainy day, or even a stinking hot day when it's too uncomfortable to be outside.

Official website in Català and Castellano

Info about the museum in English

What makes it even more attractive is the entry fee - only €3 per person at the time of writing.  At this price, it's one of the most inexpensive attractions that Barcelona has to offer, and will keep the kids amused for some time - especially with the hands-on exhibits.

The winding entryway explores life from the very beginning of time

We've found that the easiest way to get to CosmoCaixa is to catch the L7 metro line from Plaça Catalunya to the end station at Av. Tibidabo.  From there, the museum is a 10 min., 800m uphill walk - not good when there are young children or in adverse weather conditions.  Instead, catch the #123 bus (one of the smaller buses) which leaves from the bus rank across the road from the station - at the foot of Av. del Tibidabo and on Passeig de Sant Gervasi.   If you tell the driver that you want to go to CosmoCaixa, he'll tell you where to get off the bus. It's less than a 5 minute ride, but will save you from the whinging!  Alternatively, the #196 bus leaves its stop from just above the Blue Tram stop at the bottom of Av. del Tibidabo, and also passes the museum.

The museum can be very busy - especially on wet days or holidays.  Getting there early helps to avoid the sometimes lengthy queues lining for tickets.  The museum is open from Tuesdays to Sundays (10am - 8pm), and closed most Mondays (except for holidays), Christmas Day (25th December), New Year's Day (1st January) and Kings' Day (6th January).

Looking up at the entryway from the base

Aside from the temporary exhibits, the museum has 8 permanent display areas.

La Plaza de la Ciencia:  The Science Plaza is located in the open air outside the museum and is free.  However, it's not very interesting and wasn't enough to hold the attention of J's kids for very long.

El Muro Geológico:  The Geological Wall stretches along the entire length of the museum, and uses 90 tons of rock to demonstrate how natural forces have shaped planet Earth. There is also an interesting video on how some of the rock wall was lifted out of its natural state and prepared for exhibition in the museum.

The geological wall can be seen on the mezzanine floor

El Bosque Inundado:  The Submerged Forest is 1,000 sq. meters of simulated Brazilian rainforest, housing living flora and fauna - mostly in the form of the various types of aquatic life.  We love this display.

A large equatorial fish and its reflection

Every so often, a simulated rainstorm pours from the roof in a display of how heavy the equatorial rainstorms can be.

Equatorial rainfall simulation

Looking down into the Brazilian Rainforest exhibit

La Sala de la Materia:  The Matter Room explores "matter" - what else!  It deals with the theory of the Big Bang up until present day, and tries to answer that age-old question, "What is Life?"

The main floor of the museum

Planetario:  The Planetarium is a 3D journey through space and time, experiencing galactic events usually only seen in science fiction movies.  We have yet to visit the museum when the Planetarium is open, and it's the only exhibit where the commentary is in English as well as Català and Castellano.

Measuring time with a perpetual pendulum using the earth's rotation for momentum and direction

Clik and Flash:  The 'Clik' and 'Flash' rooms are for children between 3 and 9yo. and are located on the upper level of the museum.  There are set times for these rooms to be open, so if you're interested in them, go upstairs and check the times which are displayed outside the main door to the rooms.

Discovering how the tectonic plates have shifted the continents

Planetario Burbuja:  The Bubble Planetarium is astronomy for children between 3 and 8yo.

Looking down on the main floor

¡Toca toca!: Touch Touch! challenges the 5 senses - touch, smell, hearing, taste and sight - to learn more about the world's flora and fauna, in an attempt to gain more understanding and respect for the natural habitats. It's a lesson in conservation.

The natural history area

The main museum floor is mostly dedicated to anthropology, mathematics and physics.  It's here that J's kids get most pleasure from the puzzles and hands-on challenges.  The big block of frozen ice and the strobe-lit ping-pong balls are hot favourites!

Ping pong balls in motion and illuminated by a strobe light

Seeds displayed in test tubes

Although the museum has a cafeteria, we have always brought our own food, and there are plenty of places to sit and eat.

An exhibit demonstrating the effects of various drugs on the human body

J's kids have been to Barcelona twice now, and each time they've been really enthusiastic about visiting CosmoCaixa.  They're returning this week, so it's likely that we'll be going again!

The rainforest area

Another view of the main hall

Museum location on Google Maps:

View Larger Map


Keefieboy said...

Looks fantastic! We'll have to take youse to Caixa Forum when you come to Madrid - not quite as spictecular, but interesting, nonetheless.

nzm said...

We look forward to that! Looking at Madrid while the victory parade for La Furia Roja was on TV has made me want to visit even more.

There is also a Caixa Forum here in Barca at the foot of Montjuic below MNAC.

We haven't been there yet and missed the Islamic Art exhibition that we fully intended to visit!

Jayne said...

Years ago, Mike wanted to take myself & Spadge to the Science museum in London......*yawn* I thought. Gawd, I thoroughly enjoyed it & went back for a brief visit last December! Every city should have one!

Thanks for the email hon :-) Will reply within a week......well, that's my intention! We're off on the 12th September - yay!

nzm said...

Take your time, Jayne - I know that you're busy!

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

It must be one of the best museums in the world. What an amazing place.
Hey, what's happening about the bull fighting in your area. It's to be banned I read.

nzm said...

Wendy: it is a top museum for sure and, as I said in the post, it's under-rated because not many visitors to Barcelona would get to know about it, given that their website is only in Catala and Castellano.

Yes, bull-fighting was voted on in the Catalonian parliament, and the resolution to ban it was passed by a vote of 68-55 with 9 members abstaining from voting. The ban takes place from 2012. There's only 1 working bullring left in Barcelona anyway, with plans to turn it into an apartment complex once the ban comes into effect. The other big ring in the city is currently being turned into a shopping centre!

Pandabonium said...

What a wonderful museum. The tropical rainforest exhibit looks fantastic.

nzm said...

It is - right down to the humidity levels!