We were privileged to visit the museum of paper in Pescia, Pretoria yesterday (18.5.17). The director of the museum, Massimiliano Bini, gave us behind the scenes tour as restoration continues to restore the original paper mill (1700). The museum is in 2 parts, the newly restored and part rebuild is the archive centre, display area which holds a collection of Magnani papers and documentation and the other more extensive building is the 4 storey paper mill. The project brings together the 500 year old history of the vast network of paper makers within the local region of the valley, where once over 150 vats were in operation. The ambition of the museum focuses on the history of local paper makers, the Magnani paper collection as well as serving as a research centre and educational workshops with the intention of producing handmade paper from the mill.
There is a huge woven history of paper makers within the valley, the archive materials extends back many generation and the products produced have been global. There is a large collection of watermark drawings and the original (mesh) moulds. The ambition of this project is exciting and the vision of the team has energy and is remarkable.
The tour took us around parts of the mill that are undergoing building work. In every part of the building remained the machinery and scattering of belly bands and paper examples. It has been 20 years since the mill closed and it felt as only yesterday the last workers left. The mill housed around 10 families on the third floor, each with there own room and a communal kitchen. The mill employed around 40 men and women which was run by the minister.
The museum has a way to go to restore the building and machinery but over the coming years as the archive centre shows this project will be a significant paper museum of the region and Europe.
All photographs by Jack Blake & Barbara Salvadori© 2017