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The stairway of the gods: The mountain and science

La viabilità e le infrastrutture prima del conflitto: strada del Passo Rolle
MUSE - Museo delle Scienze di Trento

In ancient times the mountain was the seat of the gods, a pathway to catharsis and purification. What has changed with scientific research? How can we showcase today the value of our archival heritage linked with the mountain environment?

In ancient times, the mountain was the seat of divinity, a place to be reached for purifying oneself, but also montes horribiles, home to monsters and magicians who held the knowledge of herbs. From the 18th century onwards scientists, often accompanied by artists, explored the Alps and the Apennines, offering a new perspective of them. During the 19th century, research into the therapeutic effects of mountain air was deepened. With the development of the market economy, the mountain setting became an ideal location for advertising products with, or without, curative properties. But for an illiterate Italy, brands and labels could also transmit knowledge: anyone would recognize Vesuvius or Mont Blanc. Through photography, research made use of an instrument ready to link scientific divulgation with aesthetic enjoyment. A journey through the archives making it easier to get to the "gods" of knowledge.