The Giara Horse Museum is housed within a typical, traditional Sardinian home featuring a central courtyard. It is divided in two wings and has various sections.
S’òmmu e su massaiu:
Comprising the stable, cellar and equipment room, s’òmmu e su massaiu recounts the past with the aid of illustrations, old tools and descriptions. It tells us of the toils, but also of the passion, joy and celebration that would follow the completion of all hard work.
The heart of the house, where not only flavours and dishes but also accounts and tales are created and savoured.
The evening rooms where, in the darkness of the night, family plans are made and memories – both good and bad – are rekindled. Above all, it is the ideal place for building hopes and dreams.
The Horse Section:
The historical memory of a community whose course has always been accompanied by the presence of the little Giara horse, like a shadow never leaving its side, defining its shape and guiding it through time.
The Giara Horse Museum’s ethnographic section is set out across the various rooms of Casa Serra, a typical, traditional Sardinian home which has been restored and adapted for use as a museum. Equipment for working the land, carpentry and shepherding tools, as well as kitchen utensils and bedroom objects dating to the beginning of the 1900s all make this visit both enjoyable and educational. These objects and their usage are further described in video footage of interviews with the local elderly population, along with accounts of bygone times in the town. The Museum’s ethnographic section is documented by Prof. Giulio Angioni, whose texts give visitors a deeper insight into Sardinian social and cultural anthropology, and create a dialectic link between local and regional contexts.
The Museum counts approximately 400 articles, which have all been restored, catalogued and labelled in accordance with ICCD (Italian Institute of Cataloguing and Documentation) standards.
The Civic Museum of the Giara Horse has the role of gathering past testimonies of its host town, Genoni, by focusing on real-life experiences and knowledge, deeply rooted in the historical memory of its population and preserved in material objects, work, accounts and the environment. It is the historical memory of a community whose course has always been accompanied by the presence of the Giara horse, like a shadow never leaving its side, defining its shape and guiding it through time.
With the aim of also involving small children, the interviews have been passed through the hands of a leading artist and illustrator, Pia Valentinis, who after analysing the collected works, was able to portray them in her illustrations. These pictures heighten the museum experience with the ambitious objective of managing to reach different levels of sensibility. These very illustrations, together with captions from the interviews, form this original guide book which accompanies visitors during their tour of the museum. The book’s illustrations are organised room by room, exactly as they are set out in the museum, where it is also possible to watch the interview that inspired the artist’s creation of her drawings.
Work to update the museum has envisaged thirty or so interviews of the local population who experienced life in wartime years. The people of Genoni were invited to take part and, as always, there was an active and substantial response. In the interviews, we tried to gather an uninfluenced representation, by avoiding overly specific questions which could have swayed the interviewee. We also sought to document only the clearest memories. This method does have its limits; it is often impossible to go into great detail on a certain topic if the speaker does not do so on his or her own accord. The result is, however, totally genuine. Underpinning this method of work is the concept of microhistories. In fact, the studies of Grendi teach us that, ‘Social microanalysis is more closely linked to the basic nature of the data under consideration than to the actual size of the social area itself.’ Yet what reinforced our idea was the experimental type, as emphasised by Levi, ‘The real issue at hand is the experimental choice of the size of the observational scale. The very fact that a microscopic observation is able to show us things that had not been observed beforehand is the unifying nature of microscopic research.’ This premise supports the project’s chosen method. The recounted microhistories are bound to their local area without ever separating themselves from the context. Furthermore, they offer an additional documentary cross section which calls for an alternative type of museum exhibition, capable of meeting these documentary requirements.
The interviews are subdivided into video clips, which are equally brief as they are representative, and are connected to the museum tour via QR codes containing video footage of the local population, who describe situations and objects, and tell anecdotes and stories.