MEI inaugurated in Genoa

The National Museum of Italian Emigration opens in Genoa, in the old Commenda di San Giovanni di Prè: a museum that will tell the story of migrants who left Italy to seek happiness elsewhere.

It was inaugurated yesterday at Genoa that National Museum of Italian Emigration (MEI), within Commandery of San Giovanni di Prè: from the port of Genoa, in fact, many ships have been abandoned in the past that have brought Italians all over the world, but the museum intends to tell the migration phenomena with an eye not only facing Italy, but to the whole globe. The National Emigration Museum is actually the result of months of work dedicated to one participated project which involved many realities both Italians and from the rest of the world, through a strong synergy with numerous associations of Italians spread across all five continents. The choice of Liguria and in particular Genoa, among the various cities and regions that have applied to host this important museum, was dictated precisely by role that this city and its port have played in the history of Italian emigration. In addition, the choice of location, or Commenda di San Giovanni di Prè, a building from the twelfth century, is full of meaning: for centuries it has been a place of welcome and a passage for a humanity in transit, from pilgrims to the crusades, up to 1800- emigrants of the century.

The building was born around 1180 after the will of Brother Guglielmo dei Cavalieri Giovanniti and was a place of help for pilgrims and crusaders who were preparing to travel to the Holy Land or were on their way back. Two popes were among the guests: Urban V, during his voyage to Rome in 1367, and Urban VI, who settled here for about a year between 1385 and 1386. The structure has now been renovated internally thanks to the work of functional and technological adaptation carried out in harmony with the Superintendentency of Liguria, made possible thanks to a huge investment from Mic and the contribution of the Compagnia di San Paolo Foundation. The intervention is a natural continuation of the commitment that Compagnia has made over time to the construction of Galata and the Memory and Migration Pavilion. The MEI project is a project strongly supported by the Ministry of Culture, which sees the Municipality of Genoa and the Liguria region, which have signed the Enhancement Agreement, as leading entities. An agreement based on the desire to build a migrant memory, a place for reflection on the issues of migration but also on inclusiveness and integration. MEI intends to propose itself as a container of the experiences that have characterized and still characterize the complex national migration reality, taking into account that migrations are a constant in human history and that they are also a hallmark of our country.

The exhibition itinerary develops on three floors spread over sixteen areas, built around the life stories of the main characters of the emigration: the experiences of individuals are offered to the visitor through primary sources such as autobiographies, diaries, letters, photographs, newspapers, songs and music that accompanied the emigrants. These are documents gathered in a single narrative, which show the migration phenomenon in its many facets and articulations. MEI wants to be a museum in motion, as the travel theme suggests what the visitor will do among the pictures and stories of the millions of Italians who have left our country. Migrants from different eras (from the unification of Italy to today) with their own history, people who have faced the delicate moment of choosing to leave, and decide to leave their work, home and family of origin.

MEI inaugurated in Genoa
National Museum of Italian Emigration
National Museum of Italian Emigration
National Museum of Italian Emigration
National Museum of Italian Emigration
National Museum of Italian Emigration
National Museum of Italian Emigration
National Museum of Italian Emigration
National Museum of Italian Emigration
National Museum of Italian Emigration

Data on departures, returns, destinations, work, health, nutrition, racism, hospitality, the many different reasons for leaving Italy, which represent the great mosaic of migration, will be returned to the visitor through interactive tools and multimedia. If travel is the focus of exposure Galata Sea Museumwhich MEI represents continuation and conclusion, at MEI, the focus is on what you find after the trip: the search for a job and a home, to learn a new language, to enter a different and sometimes hostile society. The documents used to build the museum’s content come from bodies, state and local institutions, archives, museums, emigrant associations: a large network of collaborations that MEI has built, a large mosaic where each piece is an individual and Community history of migration.

Each area of ​​the museum introduces a period of human mobility, from prehistory to the Middle Ages and modern times, long before the spread of the concept of “border”. Italian emigration did not only have its destination abroad, and it does not only belong to the past. For this reason, the museum also tells of the internal emigration, decreasing in its two main directions, from the landscape to the city and from south to north, and the contemporary emigration, with the forms it assumed after the era of 1973. country of immigration.

Inside the museum there is also a space for reflection, the Monument, an artistic installation with a planisphere showing the places of tragedy involving emigration: from the sinking of Sirius to the fire of the triangle in New York, from the events in Aigues Mortes to the massacre in Marcinelle that passed through mining disasters and shipwrecks. The museum tour ends with a reflection on mobility in the country and with a first presentation of migrations in the last twenty years, especially made in collaboration with the Migrant Foundation and based on the studies published in the div. Reports on Italians in the world.

The documents used are the result of research and studies in collaboration with researchers and institutions such as the International Center for Studies on Italian Emigration (CISEI) in Genoa, the National Diary Archive Foundation of Pieve Santo Stefano, the Pietro Regional Emigration Museum. Conti di Gualdo Tadino, Central Institute for Sound and Audiovisual Heritage, Istituto Luce – Archivio Storico Luce, Rai, through Rai-Teche Archive, Central State Archive and the Diplomatic Historical Archive of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. There were also contacts with international museums and centers such as the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration, the MUNTREF -Museo de la Inmigración in Buenos Aires and the Museu da Immigração do Estado de São Paulo in São Paulo. A fundamental role is also played by the numerous associations of “Italians in the world”, a diversity of topics that are often very active in international relations and have a strong influence on the community of Italian foreigners.

An important and constructive dialogue was developed with a prestigious institutional unit: the Directorate-General for Italians Abroad (DIGIT) under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and a Memorandum of Understanding was also signed with the General Council of Italians Abroad (CGIE).

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