You want to know how industrialisation welds a small town and its people together into a whole? Then you have to go to Monfalcone in Italy. Since 1908, when the first ship was launched here - a place near Trieste that belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1918 - Monfalcone has been renowned as a centre of the shipyard industry. This is due to the Cosulich family, well-established in the regional shipping industry. Their foundation of a shipyard in today's Panzano district rapidly turns the coastal town into a birthplace of elegant luxury liners and cruise ships travelling the world's oceans. And because the Cosulich company considers the well-being of the workers and their families to be part of its commercial success, it erects a residential estate that is still inhabited today, with shops, a school, a library and initially even a theatre. The complex also includes a vast, elaborate residence for unmarried workers. Part of it now houses the "MuCa - Museo della Cantieristica". With its sophisticated use of multimedia technology, it takes visitors back to the "golden age" of local shipbuilding and its historical living and working conditions.
During peak times, 700 single men inhabit today's museum and former "workers' hotel", more akin to a Viennese Art Nouveau palace in its opulent 1907 design. Welders, mechanics, electricians, engineers, but also carpenters, interior designers, even artists live here. Those who start a family or gain a management position may purchase a home at reasonable rates in the adjoining factory housing estate. The owners, shipyard operators Cosulich, build the estate based on the principles of the British urban designer and inventor of the so-called garden city, Ebenezer Howard: featuring green spaces, shopping facilities and cultural institutions. The scheme is a success: Right from the onset, and even more so after the annexation to Italy in the wake of World War I, shipyard, industrial estate and workforce jointly leave their mark on Monfalcone's image in the world. Luxury liners such as the "Saturnia" and "Vulcania" carry businessmen, tourists and emigrants alike, their unique design and exquisite fittings making these ships the epitome of Italian craftsmanship.
Particularly noteworthy is that the industrial settlement is still being used as such today, and the shipyard - now state-owned - is one of the largest in the Mediterranean. However, there have been disruptions to this continuity, and it is one of the museum's outstanding features that it does not whitewash the strong interrelationship between city, people and industry. This applies to the painful economic transformation to constructing freighters and cruise ships following the decline of the ocean liner era, but it also involves the dark sides of industrialisation such as asbestos-related cancer - a disease that has claimed the lives of hundreds of people around the shipyard for decades and continues to do so to this day. The MuCa thus portrays Monfalcone as an organism with both strengths and weaknesses. To fully explore it, additional guided tours of the shipyard and the housing estate are highly recommended.
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June to September
Monday, Friday - Sunday 10am-7pm
October to May
Monday, Friday - Sunday 10am-6pm