The Building

The Building of the Biblioteca Museu was designed between the years 1882-1884 by the architect Jeroni Granell who concieved the building as a classical temple, crowned with a central dome and with two symmetrical wings dedicated respectively to the library and the museum. It was one of the first public buildings in Catalonia specially built to be a museum. The decorative style corresponds to a period of historical search typical of the European architecture of the end of the XIX century, with neoegiptian and neogreek ornamental repertoires with an eclectic and powerful aesthetic impact characteristic of public Catalan architecture of that time, right before the modernism was in it's very peak.

The façade is dominated by four columns and a semicircular tympanum. Engraved in the frieze below the narthex there is an inscription in Latin that says “Surge et Ambula” (Stand up and walk). Flanking the entrance there are two monumental sculptures, both of illustrious personalities from Vilanova; the romantic poet Manuel de Cabanyes (by the sculptor Josep Campeny) and the bishop Francesc Armanyá (by the sculptor Manuel Fuxá). The base relief that decorates the frontal and lateral façades are works by the artist Josep Mirabent i Gatell. In them one can see the different allegorical scenes about art and science with some details of clear masonic symbology.

The building is situated in the centre of a spacious XIX century garden created by Josep Piera and is sorrounded by a wrought iron perimeter which schematicaly reproduces the form of papyrus, continuing with the Egyptian influence.

HISTORY
The Library Museum Víctor Balaguer appeared at the end of the XIX century with the intention of offering its public the opportunity to see multiple collections of art, books and ethnography that Víctor Balaguer had accumulated during all his life. The collection consisted of objects proceeding from Catalonia as well as other cultures around the world, some from very distant countries. For the people of that time, part of the museum rooms could turn into exhibitions of exotic curiosities.

Balaguer ordered a new building to be constructed expressly to be a public museum in order to contribute to the advance of the country since Balaguer believed that culture was the base for progress in a community.

Its foundation in the year 1884 coincided with the decade known as the Gold Fever which, in the arts and museology corresponded to a period of search and revalorization of industrial arts and design that would lead to the immediate birth of the Catalan modernism.

That is why the collections that Balaguer treasured throughout his life were not aimed to be a simple accumulation of art and literature but to unite an important fund of archaeology, ethnology, ethnography, craftwork, decorative and industrial arts… that form a valuable, diverse, disperse, and extraordinarily interesting mixture of objects. In this small cosmos of objects he wanted to immerse his fellow citizens in the universality of Knowledge.