It was constructed in 1929 for the Barcelona International Exhibition that was held in Barcelona that year. Josep Puig i Cadafalch was the one who had the idea for the museum: a town in which the architecture, style, and culture of various locations from all around Spain were all preserved in a single place. The museum occupies a total area of 42,000 m² or about 138,000 ft².
The aim was to give an idea of what might be an "ideal model" of a Spanish village containing the main characteristics of all towns and villages in the peninsula. For this reason, 117 buildings, streets and squares were reproduced to scale. Pieces were selected taking into account criteria of aesthetic fit that could help create a harmonious overall composition in accordance with the "village" design that had been conceived.