A journey to discover the global tradition of tannery: the Igualada Leather Museum (Spain). By Marchetto Pellami

Industrious Catalogne’s long and important tradition in the tannery sector is demonstrated in the Museu de la Pell d’Igualada. The museum is the most important tourist attraction in Igualada. Nowadays, the town, which is 60 kilometres from Barcelona, has 40,000 inhabitants. The exhibition is located in a former textile factory named “Cal Boyer” that dates back to the nineth century and in the “Cal Granotes” building, that hosted a tannery in the eighteen century. The exhibition is comprised of three sections that describe the history of leather and its significance for the Mediterranean culture, the different uses of this versatile material and the development of technology generated by this tradition, in Spain and overseas. The first section “Leather in history”, starts from prehistory, passes through Greece and ancient Rome, and presents technical aspects of tannery production. For example, bookbinding and leather embossing as well as jobs associated with leather craftsmanship like shoemaking and the horse trapping. The second, “World of leather” brings visitors back to the present. Interactive and training videos, invite people to think about the leather industry’s particular characteristics. Finally, “Industrialisation”, covers the introduction of mechanisation and the abandonment of rudimentary manual techniques.
The Igualada Museum is judged to be amongst the best conceived and comprehensive museums in Europe, besides the Walsall Leather Museum in the United Kingdom and the Deutsches Ledermuseum Offenbach in Germany. In Italy, the Santa Croce sull’Arno Museo della Concia was launched last year. Unfortunately though, plans for a museum in Arzignano, in discussion for years, have yet to bear fruit. This is a real pity given the importance of the tannery tradition in this area and the world renown of Arzignano’s tannery district.

Have a look at the Igualada Museum video presentation:

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