Temporary Exhibitions

Temporary Exhibition: Wandering lives: Postwar and exile of the Pi Sunyer brothers

Exhibition at Museu Memoiral de l’Exili (MUME)

Opening : Saturday, March 11, 2017 at 12.00 noon


At the beginnings of February, 1939, the three brothers Pi I Sunyer, August, Carles and Santiago, with their respective families (more than thirty members as Núria reminds us) left Catalunya, pushed by the Francoist victory, to return never again (except for Santiago). Their biographies and their professional, intellectual and political careers perfectly illustrate the enormous cost this victory meant for Catalunya, with the political, social, economic, cultural and linguistic repression the country was submitted to during the following years. Their exile symbolizes the end of the project of a modern, democratic and reforming Catalan Republic that was widespread throughout Catalunya during the first third of the XX century reaching its culmination during in the years 1931-1936. Where did they come from, where did they go after 1939, how did they live the first years of exile, what relation did they keep with the rest of the family that remained in Catalunya? Dispersed across America and Europe, the Pi I Sunyer brothers, and their cousins in Barcelona or La Jonquera, were able to keep open  a channel of communication that, many decades later, shines a little light on one of the most traumatic periods in Catalan contemporary history.

The exhibition shows us the long and complex road that August, Carles and Santiago, together with their families (with an outstanding role played by their respective wives, Carmen Bayo, Carmen Cuberta and Mercedes Cuberta), left their country with the hope of a early return home that would slowly dissipate as the Franco regime became more consolidated. The Pi I Sunyer brothers, because of their Catalan Republican past, in the new Franco regime, will be victims of professional repression and will suffer the consequences of the Law of Political Responsabilities. In the national-Catholic Spain there is no room for a politician and writer like Carles, but there isn’t room either for his brothers August and Santiago, physiologists known worldwide.

This exhibition, that counts with an important number of original documents and objects from family sources, evokes the experience of exile with all its consequences: uprooting, travels and moves across the globe, families separated, constantly worrying about a possible return home and, specially, homesickness, symbolized in the village of Roses (Empordà), the lost paradise of he Pi-Sunyers, where before the war they would spend their summers. A “world of yesterday” that will never return because of the fracture caused by Franco’s victory at the end of the Civil War.

“Wandering lives. Postwar and Exile of the Pi i Sunyer brothers” has as one of its main objectives to contribute to the better understanding of the Catalan Republican exile through the particular and pragmatic example of the Pi I Sunyer brothers. Men that, because of their commitment with the defense of liberty and democracy, found themselves with the painful decision of exile.

The exhibition, that is itinerary, will be on show in Roses, La Ciutadella, and later will be in Barcelona.


Complementary activities during the Exhibition

Saturday, April 29th, at 6.00pm – Presentation of the book – catalogue of the exhibition “Wandering lives: Postwars and exilesof the Pi i Sunyer brothers”, by Maria Campillo, professor of Catalan Contemporary Literature (UAB), and Alfons Zarzoso, professor of History of Science (UAB) and curator of the History of Catalan Medicine Museum.


Curators: Laia Arañó, Margaret Townsend Pi-Sunyer and Carmen Pi-Sunyer Peyrí.

Organized by: Museu Memorial de l’Exili (MUME) and Fundació Carles Pi i Sunyer

In collaboration with:Institut Català de Recerca Patrimonial (University of Girona)

With the support of: the Municipality of Roses and the Diputació de Barcelona