There are objects that can tell stories related to people’s lives. Stories that, as happened in the past, are transmitted from generation to generation thanks to those same objects that preserve the memory of those who created and used them and who today find in other places the necessary care to preserve their intangible heritage made of narration and knowledge. From the familiar environment of the house, these testimonies of the ingenious artisanal, technical and technological evolution of those who preceded us, as well as precious custodians of the memory of entire communities through the lives of the individuals who have been part of it, are transferred to the museum.
In Umbria, in the small town of Sant’Anatolia di Narco, there is a museum that collects, preserves and transmits a heritage made up of these objects and, inevitably, of stories.
We are talking about the Hemp Museum, a place of culture that has made memory and storytelling its flagship.
This small reality has always been characterized by the charm with which it captures its visitors through the tale of the stories related to the memory of hemp, once cultivated along the banks of the Nera river, and here processed to be transformed into trousseau fabrics. Today we are finally rediscovering the potential of this plant and we have returned to teaching the know-how linked to handcrafted and traditional manual skills such as weaving. And, therefore, the Hemp Museum is ready for a new challenge. The adventure we are talking about today is linked to a collection of 116 antique sewing machines, the Consalvo Cardarelli Collection.
The history of the collection begins in 1974, when Afranio Metelli, a leading figure in the Umbrian art scene, returns to his home in Campello sul Clitunno after a period living in Los Angeles.
Here he finds the shoemaker machine that belonged to his family and which will give him a real passion for sewing machines. Thus he began to research and purchase various examples in the markets and flea markets of Umbria, Tuscany and Lazio, also helped by his wife Ann, who brought back some models from America, and local antique dealers such as Gregorio Amadio.
In 1987 Consalvo Cardarelli, Umbrian collector of contemporary art with particular regard to the artists of his land and a great friend and supporter of Afranio, bought the entire collection from him and began investing time and money for its enhancement, arriving to organize in 1989 a large exhibition – “Macchines to see” – in the historic Palazzo Rosari Spada in Spoleto, presented with a catalog edited by the critic Vittorio Fagone, with photographs of 39 machines by the artist Carol Huebner.
Upon his death, the collection passed to his daughters who in 2019 donated the entire collection to the Hemp Museum.
Here begins the new phase for the Cardarelli collection which continues its history thanks to the commitment and passion of the management and staff of the Museum who have since begun to invest great energy to enhance and make this important legacy accessible to the public. The first step is to work in anticipation of the birth of a new museum space specially created in which to exhibit the 116 sewing machines, all different by type, brand and era (in fact, they cover a time period between the mid-19th century and the mid-1900s).
In the wake of this will, the Art Bonus project “Adopt a machine” is inserted, aimed at restoring the specimens of the entire collection. The Art bonus is an instrument through which a tax credit deductible from taxes, equal to 65% of the amount donated, is recognized to those who make donations in cash as support for patronage in favor of the Italian public cultural heritage.
The “Adopt a Machine” project is the decisive step to give substance to the museum itinerary, at the same time making the public participate in this ambitious restoration project. By adopting a machine, or a part of it, or by donating an adoption by associating the name of a loved one with an object as extraordinary as it is familiar since it belongs to the memory of each of us, you become active participants in a great project of recovery, protection and promotion of common history and traditions.
Donating is simple: just connect to the Museum website and choose the machine to be adopted, indicating the lot and the machine that has been chosen.
Together with the Hemp Museum we can all take care of a cultural heritage received as an inheritance, preserving it for future generations.