Museo Salterio, Milano – Taste and Landscape

The Museo Salterio – Officina del Gusto e del Paesaggio (MUSA) opened earlier this summer and is located on the edge of the Pavese Canal, in Moirago, Municipality of Zibido San Giacomo, to the south-west of central Milan.  Landscape Interface Studio (LIS), Kingston University has closely followed the progress of this development over the past few years having first visited the site as guests of Navigli Lombardi s.c.a.r.l. during a fact-finding visit in 2010 during a partner meeting in Milan for the European-wide ‘Waterways Forward’ project. (To read full details of the visit click here).  More recently LIS contributed to the Milan Design Week: Culture_Water_Landscapes workshops designed to develop data and knowledge gathered from the Salterio site to create material which would communicate information about the landscape and land management of the surrounding farmland including farming practices.

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Salterio complex April 2010

The Salterio Farmstead Museum has been developed in one of Milan’s former “cascines” or farmhouse complexes. These are historic buildings which are now finding new leases of life either as museums, sites for social enterprise or run on ecological and recreational lines that take in tourists. It is hoped that the redevelopment of these cascines will help draw investment into the Navigli system and generate potential income for local communities along the navigli system.  The Salterio Museum – “Officina del gusto” – provides an opportunity for the rediscovery of local and regional historical identity and monumental architecture located on the edge of Milan’s canal network.   It will strengthen links with existing initiatives such as “Walk on Water” a local project linked to preserving and enhancing environmental resources, historical, architectural and cultural heritage, the “Navigli Masterplan” and the ‘MI_LAND’ project which was established to support cooperation between public and private groups for the coordinated management of cultural heritage of the Milanese region between Naviglio Pavese and Naviglio Grande.

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Salterio Museum April 2015

The newly opened Museo Salterio offers a cultural project that uses the resources of the environment to build a new sensitivity to the local landscape and nutrition. It hosts both experimentation and research with educational courses and training for users ranging from school to the professions and includes a botanical garden, a thematic library, a laboratory/kitchen, an exhibition space and a multimedia room.

MUSA tackles the theme of the complex landscape – communicating the “intangible assets” of the landscape. Its function is complementary and synergistic to educational and training activities offered by the museum and documentation and archives located in the library.  The museum collects, preserves and displays documentation on two themes: landscape and taste, producing two education projects / training strands which are both separate and connected. But it not structured as an ethnographic museum of traditional farming – more a museum-laboratory to exchange knowledge in the form of education as a direct experience: taste / nutrition and landscape both inside the museum and in the landscape.

Kitchen workshop

Located on the ground floor of MUSA is a tasting workshop, which provides information and lectures on the topics of nutrition and food knowledge and products.

The workshops aim to:

  • provide appropriate knowledge (learning the organoleptic properties of food);
  • develop right behaviors to redirect, values, habits, …;
  • encourage the use of seasonal and local products;
  • enhancing foods high nutritional quality.

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Salterio Museum location next to Navigli Pavene, Moragio

The theme of taste, and therefore nutrition education, intends to recapture knowledge of food products in the Lombardy region, in particular those typical of low-Milan, to promote the transfer of added value of the local product on a global scale and with the aim of exploiting the farms and surrounding land.

Various laboratories and workshops will develop educational meetings with theoretical and practical focus’ to experience and learn about the raw materials and nutritional aspects of local food and produce. The courses will be taught by nutritionists with chefs for a fusion of knowledge: the science of nutrition applied to the culinary arts. The lessons will take place within the kitchen laboratory, and will be divided into modules with different goals depending on the participants.

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Library

The specialized library is open shelves, with two main sections relating to the types of issues / assets narrated by the museum. Its objectives are:

  • build a specialized library, and aspire to become a center of documentation 
  • enrich it with a proposed progressive acquisitions, in hard-back and electronic form, of the historical treatises on nutrition and landscape;
  • to develop a different relationship with people than the traditional library.

The library of MUSA aims to cover two topics: taste and landscape, in a broad sense.

 “taste”:

  • nutrition education, culinary education;
  • culinary tradition 
  • knowledge of raw materials 
  • family, oral traditions, customs, household tools, furniture 
  • farm work: manuals and catalogs, brochures, photos, 
  • iconography documenting anthropological component of the relationship people-food.

“landscape”:

  • territory, environment, contemporary landscape;
  • agriculture and technical and traditional knowledge and innovation;
  • education and training to the landscape, the theories and techniques;
  • historic agricultural landscape;
  • the farms, rural settlements, land consumption.

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‘The network of historic farms is becoming a sustainable system of renewed economy .  The farmhouses have been a leading factor in the construction environment and landscape’

Earlier this year, Fabio Porcu, a student on the MA Landscape + Urbanism course, visited the Museo Salterio and was taken on a tour of the site by Architect Matteo Mai who is now the Museum Director. Matteo explained that the purpose of the Museum is to revalue and to preserve the historical farming activities and typical plants of the flat lands close to Milan – such as risotto rice. The museum will do this by developing interactive exhibitions and workshops about the surrounding agricultural countryside and will create, through the work in the laboratory, a new generation of people able to grow and use local produce following local traditions.  Previously, Landscape Interface Studio submitted ‘a letter of intent‘ to support and collaborate with the Salterio Museum project to develop and deliver landscape education based on the surrounding landscape including research and communication material.

* For further reading we suggest you read  “The history of Europe’s waterways is interwoven with the adjacent landscape….” by Claudio Repossi of Navigli Lombardi s.c.a.r.l. where he develops the connection between Milan’s Navigli network, Milan’s surrounding landscape and development of the proposed Salterio Museum complex.

 Images: Fabio Porcu, Matteo Mai, Carine Brannan
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