Founded on 15 May 1985, Associazione Museo della Melara is a not-for-profit institution with purely cultural and social aims in promoting and enhancing the historical memory of the former OTO Melara, now Leonardo. One of its goals is to ensure that core elements of the documentary heritage kept at the OTO Melara Historical Archive (La Spezia) and the Breda Meccanica Bresciana Historical Archive (Brescia) are stored in usable form. The Association is part of the Integrated Museum and Archive System coordinated by Fondazione Leonardo-Civiltà delle Macchine.

The OTO Melara Historical Archive Documentation Centre

Inaugurated in December 2019 in the restored Portineria Sud of the current Leonardo complex in La Spezia, this centre sets out to provide an open space for culture and research, with multimedia stations for exploring the digitised video and photographic heritage. The space displays scale models of historic products from the land and naval sectors. The company’s technical library also contains specialist books and a collection of industry magazines, monographs, brochures and product technical sheets. Other documents from the archive, such as employee registration books, correspondence, designs, floor plans and technical drawings, are available for consultation on request.

An interesting exhibition itinerary has also been set up outside the Centre: a veritable “stroll through history” through specimens of vehicles and products displayed in their evocative material form, all bearing witness to an unrivalled know-how in the defence sector. Around the vehicles, 34 pillars, each displaying an image taken from the OTO Melara Historical Archive, tell the story of a company that has interlaced its fortunes with the history of La Spezia and the whole nation.

Breda Meccanica Bresciana exhibition area and air raid shelter

The exhibition, inaugurated in December 2013 at the Leonardo site in Brescia, takes the form of a permanent photographic exhibition entitled “Our History. The origins of Breda Meccanica Bresciana from its foundation to its reconstruction, 1924-1955”, and a visit to an air raid bunker that has recently been restored.

The photographic exhibition pools together 200 black and white images from the Historical Archive and describes the company’s history through evocative industrial visions. The exhibition space is also enriched with vintage objects and mementoes, bearing tangible and material witness to the company’s products.

In 2015, part of a surface air-raid shelter constructed in the 1940s was restored, made safe and opened to visitors. This conservative restoration resulted in an environment very similar to the original. The space is enriched with photographs and mementoes, including bicycles that were used for ventilation. The shelter provides an immersive experience, including an audio simulation of a bombing raid.

Centro di documentazione Archivio Storico OTO Melara - Via Valdilocchi, 15 – 19126, La Spezia (SP)

Area espositiva e rifugio antiaereo Breda Meccanica Bresciana - Via Lunga, 2 25126, Brescia (BS)

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