The origin of the Botanical Institute of Barcelona (IBB) can be traced back to the establishment of the Natural Sciences Museum in 1882, which originated with the collections naturalist Francesc Martorell i Peña (1812 – 1878) donated to the city of Barcelona.

Under an agreement signed at the Barcelona City Council between the Regionalist League and the Republican political parties (1916) three major natural science museums were established: zoology, geology and botany. The most important such museums in Catalonia’s history, came under the leadership of Josep Maluquer i Nicolau, with the collaboration of Community of Municipalities and the Generalitat of Catalonia. This project originated from existing collections together with those ceded by the Catalan Institute of Natural History. In 1917, Dr. Pius Font i Quer (1888 – 1964) joined the Museum’s Botany Department.

The Botanical Institute itself was founded in 1934. Between 1917 and 1937 Dr. Font i Quer undertook intensive botanical expeditions throughout North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula. He acquired important bibliographic collections and reference collections with the objective of creating a relevant herbarium of Western Mediterranean flora. The creation of the botanical garden began in 1930 in the Fuixarda quarries of Parc de Montjuïc. In 1940, the ancient Botanical Institute was moved to a building nearby.

In 1998, a new agreement was signed converting the Botanical Institute into a joint venture managed by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and the Barcelona City Council. Under this new agreement the CSIC funded the construction of a new building located on top of the new Botanical Garden (2003).  The Botanical Institute has moved into new development stages with progressively more involvement of the CSIC.