IMPORTANT UPDATE: After 5 years and 9 months, on 31st December 2016, MiBa closes its physical location to become a “travelling museum” and so bring its collection of wonders to around the world. Follow the project on the web and social media to discover the various activities and next stops! 😉
“If you can dream it, you can do it.” – Walt Disney
BARCELONA There is a very special street, the street that everyday, for months, I’ve gone through when I used to go to visit the girl who I still consider the Greatest Love of my youth. I remember that often passing by in the amorous swiftness, my eye used to alight on a enormous scale showing the entrance of the “MiBa: Museu d’idees i invents de Barcelona” (Museum of ideas and inventions), but I never had the time to stop; save one day, with her, when, enraptured by curiosity, we decided to get closer to that still unknown corner and we got on the scale.
It was a “magic” scale to see things from a different point of view: the needle said that she had the same weight as Marylin Monroe and I was the same as Leo Messi (without ball!). I immediately thought that place was perfect for me but, don’t ask me why, we didn’t enter even that time.
Months and then years roll by and I’m in Barcelona again, now just traveling. Without thinking of anything, I’m wandering in the city centre, when I find myself in Carrer de la Ciutat, close to Plaça Sant Jaume; I see that beloved corner full of memories and I understand that the moment has come. It’s a magical attraction, the same curiosity you feel when you’re a little boy or girl and you find a new unknown place, a new tree to climb or your granpa’s cellar’s door open.
I enter as CCTzen and they give me a white-glove treatment. Crossed the dark threshold, I feel exactly like Charlie entering the Chocolate Factory. My “Umpa Lumpa” explains me that the museum is a self-founded (on April 2011) creation by the spanish invention’s guru Pep Torres, whose “Human-powered vending machine” – that gives you a snack in exchange for consuming the equivalent amount of calories – in 2009 was considered one of the best inventions of the year by the TIME.
I get lost like Alice in Wonderland. There is any kind of invention: on one side, you can find funny ideas, like animal feed that makes your dog’s “poo” phosphorescent in order not to step it on when it’s dark, a mop with a microphone for inspired housewives, a flatulence-filtring cushion to share a mexican dinner all together without any worries or the alcohol detecting cell phone who blocks every call to your ex-girl-or-boy-friends when you’re drunk; on the other side, more important and socially useful inventions, like a 1€ water filter that purifies till 150L of water or economic glasses with liquid made adjustable “lens”, both employed in developing countries.
But the biggest surprise is when Willy Wonka arrives to illuminate the little Charlie’s path: Pep Torres suddenly appears, heading me to understand the deepest meaning of his creation. He begins from an enormous slide, dark, steep and curvy that leads downstairs; at the beginning, the fear can block you but once you’ve done the first step, you slide down with a sensation of relief.
It’s a metaphor of the invention, something that you consider unreachable, but that you understand being only a matter of self-fixed limits, once you’ve found the courage to pull yourself beyond them. This is the museum’s true message: the most important thing is not the amusement and astonishment in front of other people’s ideas, but it is what’s going to happen after this visit to you who are used to stop yourself at “no, this is surely a stupid idea” instead of hazarding.
Here everything seems to smell like Disney, Willy Wonka, Steve Jobs; you can breathe creativity and childhood. And exactly through children Pep tries to explain to the world, and to me, how it’s simple to recover our lost confidence. Indeed, he organizes the “Mini-Miba Contest“, where the youngest draw what they think the World needs to be invented and everyone can win a free patent and a prototype; this happened, for example, to a child who drew a plastic cover to protect his everyday shoes while he plays football with his friends: an invention able to attract a 250.000€ offer.
So, what are we waiting for? Let’s go to Barcelona to find our inspiration again!
“Every child is born blessed with a vivid imagination. But just as a muscle grows flabby with disuse, so the bright imagination of a child pales in later years if he ceases to exercise it.” – Walt Disney