Marina Caruzzo ∞ AT ONE TIME IT DIDN’T EXIST – (Beyond the obvious)

“A museum is a non profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment, for the purposes of education, study, and enjoyment" (International Council of Museums Statute, 21Th General Conference in Vienna, Austria, 2007)

The life and the definition of the museum has changed and evolved in line with developments of society. For centuries, valuable collections were only accessible to small elites. the first museums opened to the public were established in the18th century. The British Museum in London, founded in 1759, was the first national public museum in the world.

Nowadays, an understanding of the actual significance of the museum sector to society is more and more an essential mission all around the world. Cultural Organisations, and Network of Museums, also in Europe, have been working hard to show how this sector needs to be increasingly visible as institutions serving their communities in particular, redefining their public value in response to challenges facing societies today.

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Moreover, we’d like strongly to remember that “Museums are often at the heart of successful urban regeneration initiatives. They help regions to assert their identities, bring back investment and consumers, and enhance the quality of life in urban areas. They can help revive and diversify the local economy and the competitiveness of their environment" (NEMO-Network of European Museum Organisations).

An excellent example, because of being a young Organization is the Muse , The Science Museum of Trento, (Italy). but definitely not the only one. Situated in a new and under populated zone, it really represents a risky venture in a period of great economical depression.

 

The Muse official opening was on the 27 th of July 2013. With a non stop event of 24 hours that registered a public of 30.000 people, plus 250 events including meetings on themes, “talk shows”, spectaculars, concerts and artistic scenery. Not forgetting 450 people involved in the organization, and 150 Accredited journalists, nearly 60 Associations made up of Institutions, Culture Societies and local Universities present in the realization of the event. From that date the Muse has obtained the significant sum of 600.000 visitors. At the end of November its earning was 40,6% of the budget, in comparison to 59,4% of the public finances. Only the Museum’s shop made a profit of 750.000 € in 2014.

Nowadays, out of the 100 most important Italian museums, the Muse is ranked the seventh, after Venaria Reale in Turin, and before the Castello Sforzesco in Milan, and before Castello Sforzesco in Milan or Galleria Borghese in Rome. (cit. “Il Giornale dell’Arte”)

Elisa Tessaro works in the Muse Communication´s Office. She is connected with us from Trento.

M. Good morning Elisa.

E. Good morning to you too.

M. Well the Muse started in a big way! , but also the past and the origin are really interesting. Without doubt it reflects the history and the identity of local citizens. doesn't it?

E. Yes definitely. The roofs of Muse can be mingled with the antique collections of the notable local people, who at the end of the 1.700 enriched the Art History Museum in Trento with natural objects.

Obviously from 1.700 to today a lot has been done.

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The process that was made for the realization of a new seat Muse projected by Renzo Pian, was started from the 90 's when the Institution, still called Natural Science Tridentino Museum, proposed to explore new cultural possibilities and museum activities. In these years the themes and characteristics for the new museum were born, also thanks to a deeper reflection that involved an entire part of the city and the Trentino territory, progressively wishing for new identities, (cultural, turistic, etc, and less tied to tradition.

Today the Muse is a public and non profit Institution that works with tools and methods of scientific research. Its aims is to investigate themes regarding nature, science , and a sustainable future.

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M. Speaking about tradition the Muse , architecture isn’t like the typical Italian museum, do you agree?

E. That’s right! The architectural idea was born from the search for the right balance between the need for flexibility on one hand , and the need to cater for scientific content on the other. The most striking feature of the building designed by Renzo Piano is the sloping roof which simulate the steepness of mountains slopes. The building consists of a sequence of spaces and volumes, solids and voids, lying on a large body of water, on which they appear to float, multiplying the impact and vibration of light and shadows.

The structure appears to be held together from above with a large pitched roof that follows the curves of the building and is a recognisable feature.

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The main themes of the exhibition are recognisable by their form and volume. It plays on the distribution of void and filled spaces and on the concept of Zero Gravity with the objects of the exhibition suspended in the air with thin steel cables. A Big Void starting from the rooflight reaching down to the basement creating a continual vision between the different plans.

M. A perfect integration between the physical space of architecture and the immaterial one of narrative, between container and content.

E. Yes, it’s really like this. The overall museum organization that you underlined, allows us to read easily the spatial organization of the exposition, the objects of the Alpine environment on the vertical line , and the objects of the global and planetarian dimension , on the horizontal one.

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The task of Muse is to interpret nature, starting from the mountains using the tools and applications of scientific research, stimulating the pleasure of knowledge and scientific curiosity.

It’s also a science centre for its interactive approach and hand-on experiences, Besides being a“mixed used” project:a public space open to the city in a free and creative way through a rich programme of exhibitions, free activities, educational programmes in particular for the communication of scientific topics.

In our website you can find history, activities, projects, well.. every thing about us (http://www.muse.it/it/Pagine/default.aspx

M. This is a central and controversial point. how do you intend the first steps of scientific literary? You love to talk about enjoyment.

E. Absolutely! . Enjoyment of discovery. The educational activity through meetings and workshops is of great importance for us. For instance , among the initiatives that we would like you discovered is MAXI Ooh! An area for children which allows them to do what they can do so well: touching, smelling, looking, and hearing. The Maxi Ooh! consists of “babults” -pairs of children and accompanying adults- that together discover the environment in a new way of being together.

Within three big spheres the science game evokes the elements of life, referring to the child’s sense of his/herself as creators of unexpected situations. A pleasant environment where discoveries are made through the senses.

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Learning by doing is always the watchword.

From January , the Muse offers “Tinker Fun”. A free space inside the museum where children can try to create objects, structures, etc, and eventually change them later after making new discoveries in the educational activities. Everything in a playful and flexible approach , of course.

Tinkering is just this: to experience science and technology in a different way, using creativity to keep in touch and to understand what surrounds us.

M. You think of the museum also as a place where to stay together. a sort of meeting place for the community?.

E. Yes, we like to say that the MuSe wants to be “Agorà”. A place where people can find several cultural offers of high quality. Moreover, we want to underline that another constant aim is to promote the public participation to the current scientific debate. On the other hand , even its structure allows it to be lived as a space to learn in an informal and interactive way. The ambition is to disclose significant themes through catchy processes and experiences of contaminations too.

M. Well, the event “Not(t)e al Muse” was a great moment of excitement! . Could you tell us something, please?

E. Glady!. “Not(t)e al Muse” was an event held on the 10 th of december 2014 inside the exhibition . “Beyond the limit . A journey to the frontiers of knowledge” realized with INFN, The Nation Institution of Nuclear Phisics.

That night , Gianluca Petrella and Paolo Fresu, two prominent names belonging to international jazz, had played in the museum in an original performance along with Eugenio Coccia , Professor of Physics and member of the National Institute of Nuclear Physics.

The music was alternated with reflections on topics of physics and astrophysics. A magic night that received an enormous and heart-warming enthusiasm from those presented.

M. wonderful night, indeed ! . One of your several exciting experiences .

E. Of course, the Muse for its true nature is always open to participation. One of these is the “Muse Fab Lab”, a digital fabrication lab, devoted to the dissemination of the culture of “doing” with the aim of fostering community innovation and sharing. “Muse Fab Lab” has a complete set of tools for digital manufacturing, 3D printing, CNC milling machines, vinyl cutting machines, a laser cutter, the same of “AALTO Media Factory” of Helsinki. The workshop is open to individuals, designers, schools and universities, makers and for partnership with non-profit organizations.

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M. An essential relationship with the territory. The success of the Muse also comes from here, I think.

E. Undoubtedly. The link with the territory is played on two fronts. On one hand the essential link with the city. On the other , with the territory in its complexity.

The construction of the project of Muse has stimulated new forms of cooperation and alliance between numerous public and private subjects, in particular with local community.

One of the most significant experiences was the project “According to Me. the museum that I would like”. a moment participatory of one week started in 2008 and revived in the following four years.

“According to Me” represented a unique dialogue with citizens which formed the basis of a path towards a common construction of the idea of a new museum. One of the strong elements of the project was due to the choice of moving the museum from its "borders" so that it could enter the city and public spaces.

Among the activities proposed in the course of five editions, scientific and creative workshops, musical performances, exhibitions, talk, and guided tours of the construction site of the Muse , plus supper evenings.

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Thanks to this initiative over the years it has been possible to create the foundations to build and design together with the community a new museum, integrate it into the urban geography of the city.

Thus we arrive at the opening of the Muse with the great event in July 2013 that you have already described.

M. As you said a lot has been done. Thank you Elisa for this ideal visit of the Muse . Congratulations for the work and lots of luck for the future.

E. Thank you so much. We hope to see all you at the Muse one day.