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Musei di Prato e Provincia

Materia Museum

Materia Museum: what it is and how it is born

Born from an idea of ​​Gruppo Colle S.r.l. with the participation of H2E S.r.l, the Materia museum opened in January 2016 in Val di Bisenzio, Cantagallo, province of Prato.

Visitors immediately realize that this is not a traditional museum, but rather a tool to create environmental awareness and a new way of communicating ethical, historical, artistic and technological contents.

The museum’s philosophy is already written in its name: Museum of Dyeing Art, Renewable Energies and Environment, where the words "dyeing art" can be read both together or separated, alluding in one case to the art of dyeing, and in another case both to art in its literal meaning and to the technique of dyeing.

The museum’s main subject is water which is considered as a raw material, both at the time of the fulling mill - already existing in Prato since ancient times - as fundamental element for felting, and both in modern times as an essential element  to all dyeing processes as well as in everyday life.


Museological itinerary

The structure that defines the museum and its external parts have been used since the Middle Ages for production purposes, hosting - at different times - a three millstones mill, a fulling mill, an ironworks, a “ramiera” (factory departement designate for the production of copper) and a “stracciatura” (factory departement designate for the fabrics tearing process), to which in the twentieth century were added other parts hosting a “carbonizzo” (factory department in which the fabrics are chimically treated) and a dyeing plant.

As for the inside of the museum, modernity is definitely the keynote. The two main experience-based attractions that define the museum are the Confessional and the Augmented Reality. The first is placed in the ancient compartment of one of the two millstones, in which a short video shows the beauties of our planet as well as all the man-made environmental disasters, thus inviting the visitors to think about which role are they playing regarding the environmental pollution problem, and at the same time inviting them to make an out loud promise expressing their commitment to the cause, so that all the other visitors can hear. On the other hand, the second installation, will transport the visitors in a sort of journey through time, using the technique of the Augmented Reality, which will lead them from the inside of a medieval fulling-mill, passing through a sixteenth century dyeing plant, until today, inside the Colle Group establishment, in order to project the visitors into a future vision.

Particularly significant are the underground rooms of the so-called "hell", where the hydraulic wheels were hold and where there are still very rare remains of a vertical-axis cast iron turbine dating back to the late nineteenth century.

There is also the external "margone" (water drain used to turn the mill wheel), near which there is still the old Kaplan turbine with fixed blades, and around which are placed some historical Girard and Francis turbines, while inside the museum it is possible to admire a splendid wooden reed and a small Pelton turbine.


Materia is completely free from fossil fuel energy: the museum is provided with a photovoltaic plant and an hydroelectric turbine, while heating is ensured by the passage of the discharges from a neighboring dyeing plant.

Data ultima revisione dei contenuti della pagina: venerd 05 ottobre 2018

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