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MusIL, the museum of labour and industry in Cedegolo

Labour is a sort of religion for the city and the district of Brescia and is not just a coincidence if here there’s the first system of museums entirely dedicated to this topic. The location of Cedegolo is specifically a Museum of Hydroelectric energy, a unique case of reuse of an old power plant for that purpose. Open since 2008, the MusIL is important for the history of electricity and the knowledge of industrial archaeology and local heritage, but it’s also a qualified landmark for research centers, industry and universities.

The Camonica Valley has a long tradition related to the use of water for working machine, such as watermills, mallets, forges and sawmills. Nearby, in the archeological park of Sellero, there is an Iron Age figure of a blacksmith forging a weapon, carved on the rocks.

The power plant was built in 1910 by the Electric Society of Brescia and worked up until 1962. The designer is Eugenio Dabbeni, architect and engineer, forerunner for using reinforced concrete in the building. The facility is a sort of cathedral dedicated to progress and modernity and an interesting example of industrial design. After the nationalization of the energy production, in 1962, the plant became property of the new authority (ENEL). The production ended for technical reasons and because it wasn’t cost-effective (efficient). Then the plant became a storage warehouse for the hydrolectric system of the valley.

Inside, in the old engine room, a big picture put on a window transparency shows us the ancient use. A polysensorial path reproduces the movement of a drop according to the water cycle, from the atmosphere to the sea, and leads us to the Hall of spheres, an appealing space inspired to a painting of Hieronymus Bosch, “The garden of earthly delights”, remembering the world creation.

In the Dam Hall, one can see video, vintage footages, documentaries and shortfilms about the history of the great hydroelectric works around the Adamello Glacier. An epic story, with tragic episodes, as the disaster of the Gleno, in 1923, when a dam fell down and caused about 500 casualties. Fortunately, since then there have never been any accidents.

A real production group, made by a big Francis turbine, a transmission shaft and a generator-alternator, illustrates how the water becomes electricity, passing from potential energy to kinetic energy. At the end of the path, there is the Tree of the Electricity, a big pylon made with iron trusses.

On the underground and up in the tower, many open spaces houses art or historic exhibitions and a new section of the museum is going to be dedicated to the miner’s labour.

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