Christmas tree printed on paper

Paper nativity scenes, illustrated sheets, reliefs, decorations and stories from Udine's "Ida Sello" collection
From 6 December, 2016 until 22 January, 2017

For the duration of the 2016 festive season, the Museo Etnografico del Friuli will open its doors to the public for a special Christmas themed exhibition. This will feature a selection of religious and secular artefacts and images taken from the Ida Sello collection, currently housed in the building that was once the premises of the furniture factory run by the brothers until the late 1860s. The collection brings together a wealth of innovative materials for teaching the Christmas story in infant schools, including, for example, nativity scenes printed on paper and card to cut out and colour. The earliest examples of this tradition, which dates back to the 1600s, were produced by the peninsula's earliest printing press, Soliani e Remondini, with companies in Germany, France and Italy following in their wake. Thanks to technical innovations, especially in the field of chromolithography, these latter producers were able to achieve remarkable colour effects. Further enhancing the festive atmosphere, there were Christmas dioramas and theatrical nativity scenes which encorporated forshortening techniques, including coloured backgrounds made from paper, to create the illusion of three dimensional space and add to the sense of spectacle.

The illustrated sheets, which featured a range of decorative images in a wide variety of colours, were hugely popular and not particularly subject to the whims of fashion, thus guaranteeing a profitable return for the printing companies commissioned to produce them for insertion in company catalogues. These were offered as gifts to children to be put together with adult members of the family and read year after year in celebration of the magic of Christmas.

May 30, 2016 - March 31, 2017 

On 30 May, the Museo Etnografico del Friuli launches a year-long exhibition in the hall dedicated to the Friulian Furniture Tradition, which provides the setting for a series of rotating exhibitions featuring items of furniture that help illustrate local customs and traditions in times past. The theme chosen for this year is that of birth, which will be explored through the symbolic object of the cradle.

The exhibition presents a series of cradles from both the distant and more recent past to illustrate its enduring importance and the constant attention invested in its production over time.

Read more: The Cradle, symbol of birth

27 May-October 11, 2015

In the year of Expo Milano 2015, the core theme of which was "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life" the Museo Friulano di Storia Naturale, in collaboration with the Museo Etnografico, presented an exhibition that focused attention on one of the most important foods in the human diet: cereal, and in particular wheat.

The choice of wheat is by no means accidental given the immense impact this cereal (together with barley and, to a lesser extent, oats and rye) has had both on human history and that of the countryside. Indeed it was the cultivation of this very crop in the Middle East around ten thousand years ago which was to initiate agricultural development across the Western world. The profound transformation of the countryside, the growth of villages and later cities, the increasing complexity of human society, we owe all of these to the development of agriculture, starting right from the so-called "Neolithic package" (domesticated animals and plants) – in the latter case, namely durum, hard and soft wheat, broken spelt, and barley).

Until relatively recently, wheat was the most widely cultivated crop in Friuli Venezia Giulia, but has since been replaced by heads of corn, which today characterize the local agricultural landscape. Today's crops are tied more to economic interests that the food needs of the population and this has provoked and continues to provoke serious consequences for the natural environment and biodiversity, as well as having a profound effect on eating habits and lifestyles.

In addition to analyzing the history of cereals from a botanic point of view, the exhibition also highlighted the impact of modern cereal production both on the natural environment and on our culture, providing us with food for thought regarding the future of land management, the sustainability of our current lifestyles and the possible scenarios a return to traditional cultivation might offer.

il grano locandina

December 19, 2014-April 12, 2015

The first of its kind, the exhibition offered visitors the opportunity to discover the difficult and fascinating art of blacksmithing through a reevaluation of the work of Alberto Calligaris, a master of artistic wrought iron production and an exquisite designer in the field of the applied arts in Friuli during the early twentieth century. His projects - undertaken between 1908 and the early thirties – illustrate the course of his artistic development and map a creative journey from diverse expressions of Art Nouveau to the re-working of Renaissance elements typical of Art Deco. The corpus of 250 drawings preserved in the "Calligaris" archive represents an important and extremely valuable cultural asset. The illustrations include ink drawings on tracing paper and pencil drawings on paper, as well as a few watercolors reproduced using either heliographic or blueprint processing. In addition to these materials, an extensive collection of photographs was also displayed.

Graphically fascinating, the illustrations testify to fine drawing skills and an assured command of each stage of the design process - from initial design to realization. Calligaris was a true master of his craft and highly respected. Thanks to his stylistic mastery of project design and his company’s effective corporate structure, Calligaris was highly sought after and received many prestigious and demanding commissions. These public and private undertakings saw him work alongside leading figures of the Italian art world of his day, a further indication of the high esteem in which he was held.

calligaris locandina