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Craft Museums in Piedmont - 2nd part

Posted on03/02/2014 by

We want to dedicate the second part of our article dedicated to craft museums in Piedmont to those less typical, conventional exhibitions, which also thanks to these characteristics can arouse curiosity and interest.

In Ghiffa, in the province of Verbania, there is a very peculiar museum exhibition: The Museum of the Art of the Hat. Born from the initiative of Antonio Gamba, the private museum aims to exhibit and revive one of the excellences of Italian manufacturing, the felt hat of the Panizza factory, famous on the main world markets alongside the Borsalino di Alessandria. This hat factory was founded in 1880 on the shores of Lake Maggiore, and then expanded rapidly; the undisputed quality of the creations has in fact led it to become one of the best producers of hats in the world of the last century.

The laboratory founded by Giovanni Panizza stands out right from the start: in a production scenario dominated by competition with lower prices, to the detriment of quality, he decides to focus on craftsmanship that would lead to the creation of a fine hat, aiming at elite markets. in Italy and abroad. The museum, open to the public from April to October, exhibits a collection focused on the felt hat and its manufacture, thus allowing you to learn about an important artisan tradition of the upper Verbano since the eighteenth century.

The visitor will be able to explore two rooms: a first focused on feltration, a process by which compact products are obtained thanks to the use of animal hair, and a second focused on finishing.

In the first of the two rooms are also exhibited the deeds of foundation of the hat factory and a whole series of prints and documents which clearly show the mastery of the artisans hatters when the operations were still totally manual. Some of the machines used to make a felt hat are also made available to the public, ordered according to the processing stages.

The second room, which focuses on finishing, presents a series of sewing machines and systems used to garnish and print the linings. But a visit to this museum does not only mean discovering one of the typical craftsmanship of the Italian tradition; the visitor will also be able to admire the historical evolution of fashion, thanks to a rich collection of different models both of Panizza production and of American manufacture.

Another Piedmontese handicraft museum that you can visit if you are looking for an exhibition that is definitely out of the ordinary is the Umbrella and Parasole Museum, which has been in operation in Gignese since 1939.

The repair and construction of umbrellas spread to Turin at the end of the eighteenth century, when, following the influence of French street vendors, it became a real job opportunity for the poor of the Lombard and Piedmontese plains.

This craft born from the needs dictated by poverty then became an important expression of Italian craftsmanship; Italian umbrellas, despite the increasingly looming threat of low-quality mass production, have become and still remain renowned pieces of craftsmanship. The museum, born from the will of Igino Ambrosini, today differs starting from the structure that houses it: viewed from above, the building clearly takes the form of three open umbrellas side by side.

The exhibition, visited annually by about 10,000 visitors, mainly foreigners, is spread over the two floors of the building.

The ground floor houses about a hundred pieces of umbrellas and rain covers, which outline what has been the evolution of fashion, not only in this field; particular attention was paid to the materials used for each of them, highlighting the covers, fibers, handles used.

The upper floor is instead dedicated to the re-enactment of historical aspects and testimonies on the use that umbrellas have gradually assumed: just to name a few you can admire a series of work tools, objects related to the ancient profession of the peddler umbrella , photos of the first artisans.

Moving to Turin you can visit a museum dedicated to a particularly ancient and distant form of craftsmanship: the making of puppets.

The Marionette Museum is housed in the Gianduja Theater.

It is a private museum that contains the collection from the Lupi family, an important family of puppeteers who have been working in the city for more than 200 years.

However, the exhibition is not limited to the splendid puppets made with Murano glass eyes and splendid wigs; they are in fact inserted in wonderful settings and scenographies of shows.

For more information

For timetables and more information you can consult:

Museo dell’Arte del Cappello

Museo dell’Ombrello e del Parasole

Museo della Marionetta

The photographic material was taken from the sites:

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