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MAXAM Foundation

MAXAM Foundation - House of the Explosive - An historic legacy with 100,000 visitors per year

MAXAM began its collaboration with the Museum of Mining and Industry (MUMI) towards the end of 1997, and since then has maintained its uninterrupted commitment to the institution, achieving milestones such as the creation of themuseum’s Explosives House in 2003.

By Santiago Romero, Director of the Museum of Mining and Industry in Asturias.

The Explosives House is a permanent exhibition that offers the general public a hands-on overview of the historical, scientific and technical development of industrial explosives, as well as their relationship with the chemical industry, and coal mining specifically. Set in a multifunctional setting, the exhibition helps preserve this historical heritage while forwarding its own dissemination, research, presentation and educational transfer. It also presents over a century in the social history of a major industrial powerhouse: MAXAM.

The Explosives House also complements the MUMI’s other exhibition (which cover such diverse processes as the mineral exploitation of mines, as well as its melting and eventual transformation), allowing us to see the role played by explosives in the production of these materials, which eventually form part of hundreds of items that have enormous value in our day to day life.

Creating a museum dedicated to Explosives
While museological discourse plays an important role in the creation of a museum, so, too, does the embodiment of this overarching argument via physical objects. The requires documentation, localization, restoration, conservation and exhibition processes which, while defining the multi-functionality of a museum, are one of the most complex challenges in these efforts.

Meanwhile, one has to distinguish the more familiar and local items through an ethnological lens, avoiding confusing the local with localism. Industrial and mining activities, and cultural phenomena that accompany occupy these activities, ultimately connect regions and even countries; as such, local stories are often embedded within global narratives.

The very culture linked to these processes must be highlighted to establish a real dialogue with the general public. One of a museum’s most difficult tasks lies in the selection of the objects –with their narrative background and geographic location– which it employs to tell a story.

Industrial society necessarily implies migration, both of people and machines. In our attempt to overcome these challenges, we turn to MAXAM. Indeed, MAXAM’s involvement in our projects has been all-encompassing, placing both its human and historical assets at our disposal, allowing for the museum to enrich the technical value of many of our featured objects with the living memory of those who once employed them. It was thus that truly remarkable fieldwork, from the local to the global level, was accomplished… A collaborative effort that has allowed for the expansion of our library and mineralogy section.

Looking towards the future
In its progressive advance towards the future, MAXAM has recovered both “objects and memory” which date back to the company’s foundation. With its work, it has established a narrative which gives us a museological overview of not only the scientific and technical development of the sector, but also its social growth.

If history is a debt, the objects contributed by MAXAM reflect due tribute, given that they are not only technical elements, but rather components of a society, items that belong to the working history of the society we know today. The recovery and conservation of these objects allow for the recovery and conservation of the people who once used them. This unity between people and items reaffirm the company’s historical, social and entrepreneurial history, which the MUMI is only too happy to share with society as a whole.

1. Main entrance of the MUMI. 2. UEE logo on the museum furniture. 3. The nitric acid production process. 4. The wire fabric that is used for the production of detonation cords. 5. Diorama of XIX century underground mining.. 6. Recreation of a XIX century laboratory. 7. Entrance to the Explosives House. 8. Grinder used in the production of powder.  9. Smokeless powder packages. 10. Continuous nitration installation (Switzerland, 1935)


Last update 2021.06.21
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