The Malnisio power station, an extraordinary example of industrial architecture of the last century, was completed in 1905: at the time it was one of the largest in Italy. It was the first to bring electricity to Venice. It operated until 1988, and today the building is recognised as an asset of cultural interest by the Ministry. Converted into a museum, it faithfully preserves a great history and, at the same time, thanks to an innovative digitalisation operation, is filled with interactive content and addresses the public, projecting itself towards the future.
The power station was named after engineer Antonio Pitter, one of the protagonists of the exploitation of the Cellina waters, in 1938, two years after his death. But the person in charge of the hydraulic and civil part is Aristide Zenari. More than two thousand people worked on the construction of this great work for five years, including miners, stonecutters, bricklayers, carpenters and women porters. Excavations for the tunnel in Monciaduda, along the splendid Cellina gorge, began in the summer of 1900. The barrage, placed orthogonally, takes part of the water, without creating a reservoir. The system for exploiting the waters of the Cellina designed by Zenari was completed in 1908 with the construction of the Giais power station and in 1919 with the Partidor power station in San Leonardo.
In 2006, on the occasion of the power station’s centenary, thanks to funds from the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region and the European Union, the main building was restored, with its large, evocative engine room. Four Francis Riva Monnert-type turbines coupled to their respective alternators are on display here. The Museo della Centrale, a cathedral of technology and human knowledge, is inaugurated.
Outside, thanks to the voluntary work of dozens of people, artefacts such as the artificial canal, the spillway, the stilling basin and the penstocks are restored and made accessible, so that visitors can walk through history and nature.
The power station, which for almost a century has been at the centre of a complex and articulated system of physical principles and mechanical processes, is striking for its architecture, but it is only thanks to the accompaniment of dedicated staff that this space also takes on a didactic value. The new phase of transformation that the Museum is going through also includes the use of multimedia tools, virtual and augmented reality and innovative forms of exhibition design, to make the visit an interactive, multidisciplinary experience, adaptable to different needs. The visitor is not just an observer but actively moves through a place that was once a place of work and production. He uses sight, hearing and touch.
An interactive video allows them to follow the path of the water as it enters the turbines and provides electricity, back to the river. A timeline shows how places have changed over time, how the flow of water has changed and how the population has changed. These are just two examples of the discovery and emotional paths that can be followed inside the power station, once the new installation has been completed.
An active and constantly evolving place, the power station becomes a platform for highlighting the many assets of the area, a place for lifelong learning, for dissemination and training, a museum projected into the future where the crucial issues of energy and climate change are addressed.
For information: www.eupolis.info/centrale_malnisio
Walking route Between water and industrial archaeology