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.
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.
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.
A valuable artistic contribution to the museum has been made by Prof. Giulio Angioni, who has documented the rooms, offering a deeper insight into Sardinian social and cultural anthropology and generating a dialectical rapport between local and regional contexts. A further valuable contribution by Dr Marco Piras from Agris (Regional Agency for Agricultural Research) has provided specialist advice in the section dedicated to the Giara horse.
Thanks to the collaboration of RP-Sardegna onlus, material can be accessed via the pentalibro, an important support tool assisting special needs visitors on their discovery of the museum. Sharing the same objective, Archeogeo has created small-scale reproductions of the largest museum objects, so that visitors may feel with their hands the entirety of large items with greater ease.
In conclusion, I would like to thank all the staff who have worked together in making this new exhibition project possible.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Mayor, Roberto Soddu, and Genoni Council who, totally contrary to current trends, are investing in culture. It is with enormous trust that they invite us to persevere and pursue the idea that museums and culture on the whole are fundamental in a civil society, both for promoting the heritage of knowledge and creating a virtuous and healthy economic system.
A final heartfelt thank-you goes to the soul of the museum, the entire local population, who in a different way have participated, collaborated, donated, contributed, and who continue to contribute to the life of the Giara Horse Museum.
The Civic Museum of the Giara Horse in Genoni aims to invest its resources and energy in search of opportunities and channels of communication that build a dialogue with the people of the local area, in an endeavour to promote and exhibit local history, demonstrating its intricate relationship with the greater cultural world. It also aims to highlight the inherent characteristics – symbolic, ritual, linguistic and material – of different human manifestations.
This Charter of Services and Visitor Rights draws inspiration from the definition of “Museum” as stated in the Italian law on the ‘New Code of Cultural Heritage’ of 22nd January 2004 (D.Lgs. n. 41 del 22 gennaio 2004 c.d. “Nuovo Codice dei Beni Culturali” art.101, comma 2°). The term “Museum” refers to a permanent structure that acquires, conserves, sorts and exhibits cultural heritage for educational and study purposes. Alongside its obligation to conserve, all Museums must endeavour to make this cultural heritage – which is conserved therein on behalf of the general public for educational and recreational reasons – accessible for public enjoyment (art. 102, D.Lgs. n. 41, 22 gennaio 2004).
Museum panels are accompanied by texts in Braille. Also available for visitors with visual impairment are a computer and pentalibro support tool with a Braille terminal featuring several software packages (Magic, Jaws and Open Book), making it possible for museum documents and material to be consulted.
Over two-thirds of the Museum – the entire ground floor – can be accessed by wheelchair users.