The Malcantone Museum was built in 1989 and is located in the old Greater School of Curio, a village of the region. The building, which was built in 1855 by the architect Luigi Fontana, has been the property, for some time now, of Malcantone Turismo (the Tourist Office) with the precise objective of turning it into a regional museum.
By collecting various types of documents concerning the history and culture of the region’s territory, it essentially wants to contribute to the dissemination of a deeper knowledge of the past and the present of this region. The following are some of the main activities implemented to this end:
- setting up exhibition halls that may offer a summary of traditional economy (agriculture, craftsmanship, emigration), of the social and religious life of the past, and also of all the other important aspects of life concerning the Malcantone territory;
- collection of different documents and items (objects, written and photographic documents, phonographic recordings, books etc.) to be classified and put into an archive so as to render available to all those interested in this subject materials that can be of use in furthering the knowledge and the study of Malcantone:
- promotion and support of historical, ethnographic, linguistic, geographical, architectural research etc.; a part of which should lead to the setting up of thematic exhibits.
- lastly, the Malcantone Museum, constitutes a point of reference for cultural animation at the regional level. Special attention has been devoted to the needs of schools: thus the possibility is offered not only to visit the exhibition hall but also to follow guided tours, carry out brief research work, have study session days and other such initiatives so as to make the encounter with Malcantone’s past and present more lively and topical.
In recent years, the museum’s role has become accentuated in promoting initiatives connected to the territory’s culture. In fact, a multi-faceted research project is underway on the architecture and craftsmanship of the past in Ticino. These disciplines started flourishing in Malcantone as is demonstrated by the work of the famous architect Domenico Trezzini from Astano and by that of other famous artists from the Malcantone area, who emigrated to Russia. Research is conducted with the participation of other institutions from Ticino and elsewhere.
The permanent collection, distributed in two larger halls and two smaller ones, occupies the whole ground floor. In the first of the two large halls, that is, in the one dedicated to rural life, there are examples of the activities and lifestyle of the population of Malcantone until about half way through the 20th century: hunting, fishing craftsmanship, sheep farming, wine-growing, different customs and traditions.
The second large hall houses “The Tables of Time”, an original composition of pictures that runs along the walls, in three groups, for a total of 16 metres in length; they are organized according to the principle of synoptic tables: thanks to this lay out, the visitor can really get an idea of how reality has changed in the Malcantone area in time. The four smaller rooms are devoted to such subjects like the home: - the kitchen – the heart of the house -, religion (Malcantone parish churches take turns exhibiting furnishings, sacred vestments and documents) and emigration.
Here, together with architects, town planners and engravers of international fame – let us recall just two names as examples: Domenico Trezzini and Giacomo Mercoli – more humble trades are also illustrated like that of the plaster and the stucco artisan who attended the drawing schools of Curio and Breno or that of the kiln worker, which was one of the commonest trades among seasonal emigrants in Malcantone.