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THE CENTER FOR HISTORICAL STUDIES OF PUBLIC WORKS AND CITY PLANNING, ITS EXHIBITS AND ITS COLLECTION OF MODELS ON THE HISTORY OF PUBLIC WORKS

The Center for Historical Studies of Public Works and City Planning (CEHOPU) traces its roots back to 1983 when, on the occasion of the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America, a Commission was created in what was then called the Ministry of Public Works and City Planning (MOPU). The purpose of this commission was to study and provide advice on the preservation, revival and dissemination of the history of American public works - a rich historical heritage of unquestionable cultural importance on both sides of the Atlantic. This ambitious project marked this Ministry’s contribution to remembering this history.

The creation of CEHOPU was, at the time, a pioneering initiative in the area of research into the history of technology and construction. It became the only government Center charged with studying, assessing and disseminating the heritage of public works, which had for the most part been forgotten and underestimated. Founded with an eye on America and following its integration in 1986 into the Center for Public Works Studies and Experimentation (CEDEX), it went on to be called the Center for Historical Studies of Public Works and City Planning, maintaining its acronym and gradually expanding its activities to include the study and research of public works built in Spain.

Since then, CEHOPU has engaged in research and study projects and in disseminating the history of technology, public works, city planning and of the leading figures in these areas of endeavor. These works are spotlighted through exhibits, publications, conferences, etc. The Center’s traveling exhibits play an important role in publicizing the history of public works, serving to put forth much of the historical research work and are, to a certain extent, a showcase for the activity of CEHOPU, CEDEX and of the Ministry of Development itself. This purpose is well served by its itinerant nature, which makes possible its presence in various cities throughout Spain. This activity is carried out in concert with other institutions and city or regional museums, which contribute by providing display space and organizing the exhibits.

Thanks to these exhibitions CEHOPU today boasts a magnificent collection of scale models on the history of public works that accompany its traveling exhibits, or that are lent to institutions by request. This collection features over 300 models depicting bridges, hydraulic projects, devices, machines and construction technologies used over the course of history, as well as cities, ports, fortifications and buildings. This unique set of models, featuring a markedly plastic and formal character, constitutes a key exhibition on the history of engineering, city planning, and public works, and the legacy they have all left in our country.