From ScopriMiniera (guided visit of mines) to the Regional Ecomuseum of Mines and Germanasca Valley
In the innovative spirit of the international museography at the end of 1900s, the project of preservation of Valli Chisone and Germanasca mining heritage found its place becoming subsequently the Ecomuseo Regionale delle Miniere e della Val Germanasca.
Founded in 1993, it aims to preserve and enhance the unique local mining heritage that was left to abandon and deterioration. The mineral processing was the main economical source of the valley, shaping its landscape and view. At the end of the 80’s, the talcum “cultivation” seemed to come to an end and the mineral heritage of the Valle Germanasca community seemed to be lost: machineries got rusty, mining structures fell down, archives dissolved, memory faded…
This is when the Comunità Montana Valli Chisone e Germanasca, following the example of other projects in Great Britain, France, Germany and Austria took up the challenge and started through an intense cross-border cooperation an ambitious cultural heritage tourism project to preserve and enhance the mining heritage.
In 1998 ScopriMiniera (Guided Visit of Mines) was born: a guided tour through the underground tunnels of mine Paola, discovering the life of the Valle Germanasca miners. The project aims to preserve the local cultural heritage to offer new job opportunities to the local communities. What derived was one-of-a-kind tourist offer.
ScopriMiniera revealed a network of connections with the cultural and environmental context where it operates, showing how the cultural and environmental resources bring social and economical growth in favor of the territory. The outcomes, the new expertise, the relationships have encouraged and contributed to the creation of the Ecomuseo del territorio della Val Germanasca project, and its recognition in 2003 by Regione Piemonte as Ecomuseo delle Miniere e della Valle Germanasca.
ScopriMiniera becomes the cornerstone of this gamble enhacing the mining heritage and its symbolic peasant-miner, accomplishing a proactive cultural environment and activating a sustainable tourism, integrated with the economical activities.
Paola and Gianna museum mines are the fulcrum of this modern and articulated project that takes place in Prali, 70km from Turin, at the head of a still existing extraction site where 50 miners still work nowadays. Gianna hosts since 2013 ScopriAlpi (“discover Alps”), the new itinerary about geological interpretation. The museum galleries had been in use until 1995. External buildings and the underground site were subsequently set up and organized to describe the life of the miners.
The Ecomuseum is not only mines but it offers much more!
The Ecomuseo Regionale delle Miniere e della Val Germanasca is an ecomuseum that starting from the topics around the life of peasants-miners, ScopriMiniera (“discoverMine”) and ScopriAlpi involves all the cultural resources of the valley: landscape, religion (Waldensian culture is essential in this context), Occitan language, daily life family organization, farming, community life.
The success of ScopriMiniera – which was integrated by the new itinerary ScopriAlpi since 2013 (more than 300.000 visitors in 17 years) – is accompanied by many other proposals: naturalistic and geological excursions, ancient mineral sites, air-raid shelters, still working mills, etnographical and historical museums, Waldensian culture museums.
The peculiarity of the Val Germanasca is that the traditional activities are still practiced or well documented alongside with an efficient network of cultural and tourist resources (museums, mills, hydroelectric power plants, mines, trails).
The Ecomuseum represents therefore the local community will to testify its own identity, preserving the interpretation and awareness of the signs there are still existing.