storia del museo

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the history of the museum

From a passion to an impressive collection

The laghée have always lived in symbiosis with the water. The turbulent history of Lake Como shows clearly how they were forced to earn a living as best they could from the lake...

Wars, fishing, transport, trade, smuggling: all of these activities meant boats and everyone set to work building them for every possible requirement. 
Over the years, certain families around the lakeshore became specialised in boatbuilding and this singular and invaluable craft was passed down from father to son. It should come as no surprise then that in more recent years, this nautical culture saw dramatic breakthroughs, applying avant garde techniques and bringing great prestige to Italian boatbuilding. 
From the 70s onwards, the historic boats of Lake Como increasingly fell into disuse. With the advent of fibreglass, the old wooden boats were left lying around docks and outside homes; they were burned as firewood, dismantled or left outside for years exposed to the elements. 
And the loss of the boats meant the loss of the craft: the boatbuilders alive today who know how to build boats from wood can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Having learned the far from easy craft, at the cost of humiliation, often having to deal with the jealousy of the boatyard foremen, and an apprenticeship which involved all sorts of menial tasks such as blowing away the sawdust, and heating glue in bain-marie, something which for many years was a task for children, today they find themselves in possession of a heritage which dates back centuries, without being able to use it any more. 
But all of this history, where has it gone, and who can conserve it and pass it on? 
An old boat that no longer sails on the water will be scrapped in no time and an immense cultural heritage is in danger of being lost. 
The idea of setting about collecting the last boats left originated at the end of the 70s with a group of friends who loved the lake, who set up an association. In 1982 the museum opened to the public and it was possible for all to see how a group of experts, led by GianAlberto Zanoletti, had managed with love and skill to bring dozens of boats back to life, as well as tackle, sails and engines, creating one of the richest and most important naval museums in the world.

The symbol chosen as the logo was the bow blade of the Larian gondola Moltrasina, the only original one still in existence, restored by the Posca boatyard in Lezzeno, the ony one still able to do the sewed hull. 
In 2000 the museum was forced to close as the historic building could no longer meet strict European standards. In 2015 modernisation and structural work began and in June 2018, the museum came back to life.

Text taken from THE OARED BOATS ON LAKE COMO by Gianfranco Miglio, Massimo Gozzi, Gianalberto Zanoletti 
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Il Progetto

Il progetto si propone di raccontare la storia della nautica di un territorio ricco di storia e cultura, quello della Lombardia e del Lago di Como, con la sua straordinaria raccolta di oltre 400 imbarcazioni.