Friday, 5 January 2018

quirky museums near Milan, part 2 (of 2) : the vintage petrol station museum

the tale of our wandering around Milano looking for curiosities continues. after our visit to Vittorio Tessera's scooter & lambretta museum,  our bucket list led us to another awesomely weird collection: Museo Fisogni.

the Fisogni Museum of the Petrol Station is the world's largest collection of anything related to the history of fuel pumps and gasoline distribution, from the XIX century to the '90s. 

I discovered this little gem thanks to this post by Messy Nessy Chic, a precious blog that I've religiously been following for some time now, but nobody I know had ever heard of it, and when I talked about it, before and after our visit, I noticed people staring at me with a sort of are you serious? face. oh yes, something like that exists, and it's even more gorgeous to see in person.

for the second time in a single weekend, we had the chance to meet someone with a passion so big and strong that it haven't just made them travelling around collecting pieces of junk to restore with historical accuracy and unbelievable care, but also led them to open the doors of their collections, giving all of us the opportunity to see it, to learn something, to be amazed, even the ones among us that aren't able to see the poetry behind a gas station. are you?
I think a great example of someone who really was able to see it, and feel it, is Edward Hopper, and if you're not familiar with his work Gas (1940) you can click here or go see the copy hanging on the wall of Museo Fisogni's toilet!

Guido Fisogni 

Guido Fisogni founded his museum in 1966, when his collection was just starting to get big. thanks to his work, he had to deal with petrol station quite often, and after his first discovery and restoration (of "an old five-liter, double-vessel Bergomi gasoline pump, abandoned in a sand quarry in pitiable condition") he never stopped looking and chasing, on the foggy Italian countryside as well as on the lonely roads of Texas.

he guided us between the signs, the gasoline cans, the globes, the toys and the other objects which form the supporting cast for the true stars of the museum, the pumps themselves, explaining how in his opinion they do not serve merely as pleasing esthetic appendages to industrial archeology, but are important witnesses to the rapidity of change.
in his own words:
"industrial production, by its nature, quickly consumes its own products in order to make way for newer, more beautiful, more efficient ones.
to recuperate the past; to document the history of technical improvements; to confer, among other things, an esthetic dignity often unacknowledged as a result of a prejudice against the serial production of industrial objects – these have been the objectives of the past thirty years of impassioned research, and they remain as such even now that the disposition of the collection in a museum context allows a much clearer historical and esthetic reading of the collection as a whole, and of the individual objects of which it is constituted."
I've read about him and his collection in the website before the visit, but I was charmed by his tales, that I suppose he repeats every time with the exact same sentences,  especially by the attention he puts on the changes: the different company logos and claims, how they changed and why, what aspect of the society these changes reflect, how the use of gasoline and of petrol stations developed in the Italian society, during the fascist period, after the war, and in the '80s...

but ok, I have to admit, beside the philosophy, of course I was mostly fascinated by the aesthetic of it all. you don't throw a vintage and on the road enthusiast in there and without expecting some enthusiasm, don't you?

gas pumps from the fascist era

a crazy awesome collection

the Museo Fisogni's collection celebrates the aesthetics of mechanics, dreams of the good life, and myths of fuel

nowadays it is composed by more than 5000 pieces: gas pumps, globes, oil tanks, tin signs, gadgets, grease cups, fire extinguishers, air compressors, toys, accessories, a lighter charger... everything that could belong in a petrol station of the good old days, plus several old and very old oddities.

miscela pumps from the '60s! two-stroke riders didn't have to make the mix back then 

the practical stuff

Museo Fisogni is located in a town called Tradate, in Varese province. we reached it easily by train from Milano, it's a 40 minutes journey and the museum is within walking distance from the station.
it's open on sundays from 9 to 11 am, and every day by appointment.

address via Bianchi 25/b Tradate
contact +39 335 6777118
facebook page
fee free admission (donations welcome)

finally, a lambretta sign!

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