Outside, a replica of the Ictineo I, the world's first submarine. This was a great symbol of Catalan nationalism at the time, although also ultimately a horrific failure for the inventor, because the money didn't really come through based solely on his appeals to his countrymen.
This really is a beautiful work of art. I mean, it holds up sculpturally, being pleasant to look at from all angles, and the beautiful wood + the thick, monolithic glass is luxurious. Inside the museum, they had one of the glass portholes, which was very large in mass for such a small window.
So, back in Catholic Elementary School, we had some guys who were in the USN submarine service come talk to us and kind of embed themselves in our school for a few days. That, plus seeing Crimson Tide in Catholic High School II (the lesson goal I think could have been about character development), make me think that submarines are not especially nice places to be.
However, the inventor of this submarine was actually pretty intelligent and interesting, and his goal was peaceful -- to showcase Catalan industrial achievement and do something new and exciting. Before I left, I read Barcelona by Robert Hughes, and his discussion of it (and the inventor, especially) made me really excited to see it.
This, inside, was where the real flashback happened. This is the real-sized replica of the royal galley used in the Battle of Lepanto (yes, the Battle of Lepanto), that had been built in the space where the museum is. You can see the arches in the background, but the building was once on the water, and the ships could be built in drydock and then just floated out into the water. In Catholic High School II, there was an annual screening of Monsieur Vincent, a classic foreign film from 1947. It, and of course Ben-Hur, both provide very good visuals about what it was like to be a galley slave (and how little/far humanity progressed in a millennium or two.
The temporary exhibit was of bookplates with nautical themes, which was unexpected but amazingly comprehensive. Bookplates are something I think a lot about, because I want one but I think it would be impractical. This made me think about them again.