Traditionally the core of the Asturian economy has been the mining industry and the steel industry, with blast furnaces in La Felguera, Mieres, Avilés and Gijón. The past splendour of this activity and the present times of re-conversion, are shown in the Museum of the Steel Industry (MUSI) located in one of the first pioneer councils in this sector in Spain: Langreo. This museum is the natural complement for The Mining Museum (MUMI) in the locality of El Entrego.
The refrigerante of Valnalón is a special construction that is part of the Industrial Patrimony of Asturias, which has been recently accommodated for those culture lovers to have access to this unique collection. Out of it, the robust chimney has been decorated with a multicolour band that is used to be distinguished from distance. Nowadays it does not work, but its interior still keeps the history and past ideas. Inside this huge cone, it is well explained the process that turns iron into steel. Here we are also explained all the history and the sociology of working in the factories, together with the life of the surrounding working-class and the territorial development of urban centres linked to this industry.
For this, the MUSI counts with the machinery and working tools of the old factories, informative panels, audiovisual room, library etc. The main aim is just to show clearly the process of industrialization that the Asturian towns went through since the 19th century.
The businessman Pedro Duro founded in 1857 the factory Duro & Company that soon became the most important iron and steel point in Spain. With the coming of this new business, the stockbreeding and mining valley suffered a constant transformation. Thanks to the mining development, a number of near cities developed and many Asturian people could get a job. All these, such as La Felguera, developed under the shadow of the blast furnaces and its derived industry, leaving the future generations an important socio-cultural legacy.
By the year 1900, Duro & Company became the Iron and Steel Society Duro-Felguera S.A., and in 1902 started to quote in the stock market. In 1920 it became the biggest coal factory of the country and, thanks to its benefits many important technical transformations were carried out. During the years 1940 and 1950 mining and steel industry would find a favourable environment. Duro will control the national market together with the Blast Furnaces of Vizcaya until 1960, decade in which the process of mining and industrial re-structuring starts. In 1961 the Union of Asturian Steel Industries (UNINSA) is created, formed by Duro Felguera, The factory of Mieres and the factory of the Asturian Industrial Society. This last one is the seed of what will be called ENSIDESA, factory that will receive all the working assets of Duro Felguera.
In order to analyse this development and study it in deep, the MUSI counts with activities of formation, investigation, documentation and own publications. In the audiovisual room two documentaries are projected: “The process of elaboration of steel” and “The dismantling of the blast furnaces of the old factory”. After that, we can have access to the first floor in which we find a big collection of minerals and tools of those times. The distribution of contents is basically thematic and is organized into five differenced areas. The space for the exhibitions is completely diaphanous, with the aim of making us feel inside an industrial chimney. If we look upwards, after a glazed platform, we discover a big circular mouth.
But in the centre of reception this Museum of the Steel Industry offers many possible visits. This is the starting point for other optional visits: “The working building in La Felguera: the spaces to live” and “La Felguera, the enterprising spirit of Pedro Duro and the origin and development of an area of population”, that lead the visitor through two areas of Langreo that changed during the industrialization period. These areas are kept in good state, preserving the traces that workers and owners of the old factories left: working-class houses, “detached houses of engineers”, streetlights and the music bandstand in the Park.
This museum gives back to the locality of La Felguera its industrial roots that are beginning to be lost due to the physical change that this place is suffering now, although it still shows the visitor its history and present.
Traslation by Rebeca Couto.Museum of the Steel Industry MUSI, 9.2 out of 10 based on 6 ratings