They represented the acme of European technology prior to the Industrial Revolution: the Bologna-type silk-throwing machines. Not a single of them has survived, but a half-size reconstruction in the Museum of Industrial Heritage keeps them impressingly alive. Coupled with other functional models and audio-visual installations, it illustrates the flourishing of local silk production from the 15th to the 18th century. A 16-chamber Hoffmann kiln, which was in operation between 1887 and 1966, provides the architectural setting and also tells the story of the former Galotti brickworks based here. On two further floors, the museum captures the panorama of a city which has successfully advanced several industries, including the manufacture of clothing and machine tools. Of particular importance was the engineering sector, to which the world owes, for instance, Maserati cars or Ducati motorcycles. They are part of the exhibition, as well as a tortellini machine or products made by the cutting-edge packaging industry. The range of exhibits shows that industrial heritage in Bologna is well-rooted in history while still being relevant today.
The collapse of the silk industry in the late 18th century brought Bologna into a deep crisis. Innovations were the only solution, and they happened thanks to the professor of economics, Luigi Valeriani (1758-1828), and his nephew, the experimental physicist Giovani Aldini (1762-1834). They designed the principles of a technical education, which was eventually implemented by the municipality with the establishment of the still operating Aldini-Valeriani Institute. In doing so, the two scholars gave the decisive impetus for an economic comeback and ensured that the following decades witnessed Bologna becoming one of Italy’s principal industrial cities.
The Aldini-Valeriani Institute also shaped the city’s position as an important center of industrial archeology. In the 1970s and 1980s, it collaborated with the University of Bologna to create a remarkable series of working models, of which the most impressive is a half-size silk-throwing machine. Multi-storey factories were erected in the city to accommodate such machines from the 16th century, at times powered by more than 400 water wheels. Today, these models are put center stage by the local Museum of Industrial Culture, which has been located in the former Galotti brickworks since 1997, vividly illustrating the comprehensive industrial history of Bologna on roughly 3,000 square meters. This history started with mechanical engineering, gained momentum with the advent of electromechanics and nowadays combines both sectors in the. The city’s current reputation as a highly developed industrial hub is essentially based on the automotive and packaging industries. All this was achieved by own resources alone. Technical schools, local business associations and donors, not least the many small and medium-sized enterprises on the ground have contributed to a process in which Bologna repeatedly reinvented itself. It is their role that the exciting exhibitions of the museum put an emphasis on.
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January to Mid June and Mid September to December:
Tuesday - Friday 0am-1pm
Saturday 9ap-1pm and 3-6pm
Mid June to Mid September:
Tuesday - Thursday 9am-1pm
the other days of the week for groups from 5 persons on request Monday - Friday 9am-2pm