Big little local museums
Unique and precious collections that bear witness to the creativity and ingenuity of local manufacturing, from coffee to typographic characters, from silkworms to radios
Museums that recount experiences and testimonies, but which also serve as a means for informing as well as training. They also represent an important record of the skills, creativity and ingenuity that are the very heart of the cultural heritage appreciated the world over (perhaps with just a touch of envy): the skilled craftsmanship that is synonymous with the “Made in Italy” label. These are special collections that tell the story of knowhow developed over many centuries or just a few decades. Inspired by genuine passion, the histories are told thanks to a strong desire to share such knowledge and values, mixed understandably with just a hint of pride.
There is all this and much more hidden inside the small museums dotted around the local area. Some of them occupy disused industrial buildings, while others are housed in historic public buildings that thus provide a further uniqueness to their already unique and precious exhibitions and collections. Like the 1930s drying kiln situated just stone’s throw from the historic center of Conegliano which has been home to the Dersut Coffee Museum since 2010. It is unique in its kind for the richness of the exhibits and for the completeness of the historical-educational itinerary it offers. Covering a total of 600 square meters on two floors, the famous coffee company founded in 1947, which is today located right next to the museum, takes visitors on a journey into the history of coffee along the entire supply chain, “from the plant to the cup”, with a collection of machines that have made Italian espresso coffee famous throughout the world. The exhibition ends up in the large tasting-training room on the upper floor of the Museum. Dersut has built its own Training Center here, and hosts theoretical and practical courses for both enthusiasts and professionals.
La Tipoteca Italiana di Cornuda is a private foundation commissioned and curated by the Antiga brothers (owners of the Grafiche Antiga printing company in the nearby town of Crocetta del Montello). It is one of the most important museums in Italy for the history of typographic design. Housed in the restored buildings of Canapificio Veneto Antonini-Ceresa, an ancient rope factory, this is a museum, but also a unique archive, a printing house as well as gallery and auditorium, and provides a historical yet living and creative testimony to the interweaving of manual creativity and precision technology that are the history of printing. The heart of the museum is its collection of over ten thousand typefaces, cases and punchcutters from printing companies throughout Italy. The collections of printing presses, various printer’s tools, machines and printed materials illustrate the decisive roles of the many skilled crafts related to the world of typefaces, starting from their planning and design.
Just outside Vittorio Veneto, in San Giacomo di Veglia, the former Maffi spinning mill, abandoned in the sixties, houses the Silkworm Museum. It documents what used to be one of the main economic activities in the area from the late eighteenth century to the first half of the twentieth century. The site, which is one of the oldest and most complete industrial complexes in the area, offers an architectural environment that is particularly suited to telling the complex agricultural, industrial, scientific and social world that went to make up the silk industry for many years. Instruments and equipment, publications, posters, films and historical photographs document how this area represented, at its height, the national epicentre of this sector, and was for many decades the primary local manufacturing industry, guaranteeing employment to its mostly female workforce. Alongside the history of the production process, there are also personal and collective memories including a varied collection belonging to private individuals and companies that worked in silk production.
The Museum of vintage radios was created thanks to the passion and dedication of two collectors – Rino Venezian and Lizio Brandalise. It is housed on the top floor of the La Roggia theater in Cison di Valmarino. The exhibition is situated in the main square of what is one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, and extending over an area of about 250 square meters. It narrates not only the technological and aesthetic evolution of the radio, but also the various social and cultural functions that this extraordinary source of information, entertainment and connection with the world represented between 1920 and 1970, the time frame in which the 72 exhibits that make up the exhibition were made, including some particularly valuable pieces. The exhibition is also equipped with an audiovisual system with images that allow visitors an interactive experience to learn about the historical evolution of the radio.
DERSUT COFFEE MUSEUM
Via Tiziano Vecellio, 6 – Conegliano
Open to the public every first Saturday of the month (June, July and August open on request), with opening hours from 2pm to 6pm (with free admission and free guided tour).
Info: 0438 411200 – firstname.lastname@example.org – www.dersut.it/museo
ITALIAN MUSEUM OF TYPOGRAPHY
Via Canapificio, 3 – Cornuda
Open to the public from Monday to Saturday (9-13 / 14-18) and closed on public holidays: admission €5 in full; €4 reduced (students and over 65), free for children under 8 and the disabled. Special openings are available on request and guided tours by appointment (minimum 15 participants, cost €7 per person). Guided tours with printing press demonstrations are possible for groups of at least 4 people (€25 per person).
Info: 0423 86338 – email@example.com – www.tipoteca.it
Via della Seta 23/6 – Vittorio Veneto
Open on Saturdays and Sundays (10-12 / 15-17). Tickets: full €3 euros; reduced €2.
MUSEUM OF VINTAGE RADIOS
Piazza Roma 9 – Cison Di Valmarino
Open to the public on Saturdays (15-19) and on Sunday (10-12 / 15-19). Free admission.
Info: 0438 977601 – www.comune.cisondivalmarino.tv.it
[This article was originally published in the Visit Conegliano Valdobbiadene magazine, issue Spring Summer 2018. The magazine is available here]