Museo Etnografico

Via dei Goi - 24020 Schilpario
Tel. 0346.55393 / Fax 0346.55275 /

Opening times:
From Tuesday to Sunday 15.00-18.00

Admission fee.
Discounted rates.

Guided visits for groups and school groups upon reservation.

Historical Info

Schilpario village is situated at the eastern extremity of Scalve Valley, at the end of a wide meadow valley crossed by Dezzo river and surrounded by thick spruces. The whole valley is wrapped into an imposing amphitheatre of some of Orobie's highest peaks, that are Presolana massif, Venerocolo Mont, Pizzo Camino and the peaks of Campelli with Cimon della Bagozza.
Schilpario, the main centre of the valley, is 1135 m. above sea level and is now a renowned holiday resort in both summer and winter. Its historic and cultural past is represented in the Ethnographic Museum. The hard life of the local people is analysed through documents, photos, working objects and everyday life products. Due to the inclement weather, structural and economic conditions, men, women and teenagers were obliged to work
incessantly in an attempt to raise the economic profile of their valley.
The most typical works, which were carried out until recent times, are: farming and stock- breeding; dairy farming and sheep-farming; forest exploitation and hemp and linen cultivation and processing; carpenter, charcoal burners, mining activity and furnaces. Whereas the forest and mining activities were reserved to men, all the others activities could be carried out by women also; these works were in addition to the traditional female roles, such as the mothering and housekeeping. At the age of 10-12 years old, people began working; they were transporting materials.


Exhibition Criteria

The Museum was set up between the 1970s and the 80s and inaugurated in July 1986. The fact that it was situated in an ancient renovated building that is an integral part of the ethnographic and cultural complex (on the
upper floor is the library) is extremely interesting.
Outside the building is the wheel of a mill, whose paddles are activated by the Dezzo river which flows next to it. The wheel is connected to gear wheel that, in turn, activates the grinder, the oil mill, a press for linseed oil
production and the wheat machine. This fascinating complex of machines is located in the Museum basement, while instruments and tools are between this floor and the upper one, which is at road level.
At the entrance, two deeply furrowed stones attest the hard work of those people, who used sleds to pull the iron ore of the local mines down the river.
The tools for the work in the fields are displayed in another room. They are: a ploughshare, a plough, a seeding machine, a harrow, an oxbow, a hoe, a scythe, a rake, a pitchfork, various kinds of spades, among which one is used for cutting straw (taia paia). Linen, hemp, wheat and potatoes were the most cultivated products. Various original objects are linked to stockbreeding, sheep-breeding and dairy farming. They are: a calf muzzle, an instrument for straightening the horns of the cattle; various types of basin and bowl for milk or milk cream; various types of churns and stamps for moulding butter; an original wooden instrument from 1794 called
"tessera", used for measuring and registering milk delivery (scales were still unknown).
The forest surrounding Schilpario was a huge resource: either the wood was turned into coal (there are two furnaces in Schilpario, one in Vilminore and one in Dezzo) or its bark was used for roofing purposes.

The exhibition continues with the representation of the typical female activities, which are the spinning and weaving of linen, hemp and wool with the relevant tools (scutcher, combs, reels, spinning wheels, looms); everyday life activities, including religious practices (an iron cross and some ex-voto) and child care (a wood cradle, a go-cart, and some toys). An enormous pot ("culdera") for heating milk up for the dairy farming or for
boiling water (for butchering purposes or for doing the laundry). The itinerary on the groundfloor ends with some kitchenware and domestic objects used in everyday life.

On the lower floor of the Museum, besides the above-mentioned machines, the following is exhibited: some harnesses of draught animals, a cart wheel and two carts for people transportation. The carpenter and charcoal burner professions are attested through planes, chisels, drills, the trestle for the construction of clogs or coalrelated objects. A small lateral room conserves some mining tools, including pneumatic hammers, sleds for the transportation of the mineral, bits of rope for the cableway, which was used more recently.

The mining Museum better documents the importance that such activity had in Scalve Valley.
All the sections of the Etnographic Museum are integrated by illustrative panels; particularly moving are the trunks, passports and travel documents of the emigrants,who, from the Venetian domination onwards, had been
frequently forced to leave the valley in search of a more remunerative employment.

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