Museums of the Dolomites: a great network of beauty

The history, culture and landscape of the UNESCO Dolomites is displayed in museums of geology and ethnography, art and science: each of them part of a larger mosaic. Digital tools, strategies and concepts can help to make this wonderful heritage more real and approachable, both for residents and visitors, and for web users. This is the aim of Musei delle Dolomiti (Museums of the Dolomites), a project launched by the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation in February 2019. The scheme has been implemented with contributions from the neighbouring Municipalities Fund, as part of the project “Development of the territory through the integrated management and communication activities of the UNESCO W.H.S. Dolomites.”

The great network of Beauty… in a video

A presentation video for the project was filmed during the summer. This shows how the different settings that make up the richness of the UNESCO Dolomites can enhance each other when they are all described together, and if each is depicted as part of a greater heritage. As the video shows, this unique heritage has left many traces: sometimes they are very real, like the footprint of a dinosaur, and sometimes they are as intangible as the subtle variations in language between one valley and the next. This multi-faceted story depicts the close relationship between man and the landscape: from care of the woods and pastures (at the Ethnographic Museum of the Regole d’Ampezzo), to more recent economic activities such as tourism or eyewear (at the Eyewear Museum in Pieve di Cadore). Or then there is the Seravella Ethnographic Museum, which shows the harshness of mountain life and the reasons for abandoning it. However, the heritage conserved in our museums is much older, older than man himself. So, the video also lets us explore the sea and coral beds that once covered the Dolomites, and the large animals that crossed these mountains (at the Geological Museum of the Predazzo Dolomites, the MUSE and the Vittorino Cazzetta Museum of Selva di Cadore). Finally, man is once again a player in the landscape, through his ability to describe it in words (at the Ladin Museum Ciastel de Tor), and to interpret it through art and images (in the works displayed at Dolomiti Contemporanee at Forte di Monte Ricco and the Nuovo Spazio di Casso, and at LUMEN, the newly opened museum of mountain photography).

First results and next steps

So far, the project has involved two approaches: meeting representatives of museum networks already working in the area, and ensuring that the cultural operators, curators and directors in these networks are collaborating in digital communication projects. These two approaches continued from February to November 2019 and involved over 50 professionals in the cultural field, from all parts of the World Heritage site. Various themes have emerged: the opportunities offered by the web to speak with one voice; the task of actively involving people in the care and promotion of our cultural heritage, and the importance of using social media to encourage residents and tourists to become ambassadors for our Dolomite heritage. These are the themes of our next workshops, taking place between this December and June 2020, and involving another 40 operators from 25 Dolomite museums, who will work together on digital projects.