The museum tells the story of the sanatoriums built in Valtellina during the Twentieth century with the aim to fight tuberculosis with the beneficial effects of alpine pure air and sunshine. A unique collection of old objects and images testifies to the birth and activity of the ex Sanatorium City of Sondalo, nowadays “Eugenio Morelli” Hospital. The exhibition takes place in the rooms formerly designed for the patients’ registration.
The first section of the exhibition itinerary is dedicated to the topic of disease.
Between Nineteenth and Twentieth Century tuberculosis ceased to be considered a romantic disease and took on the characteristics of a major public health threat in the new industialized and urbanized society. From the Sixties, antibiotics could tackle tuberculosis in ever more effective ways, but today it is still considered a global disease affecting more than one million of victims every year.
The second section of the exhibition itinerary is dedicated to the topic of therapy and sanatoriums.
Initially sanatoriums were built to prevent tuberculosis infection, where patients could be isolated in a comforting way. Twentieth Century architecture evolved on the basis of functionalism; following medical progress, air, light and sun entered the buildings to strengthen the patients and to aid their healing process. The therapy was based on prescribed rest, nourishing diet ans fresh air, namely based on the so called “three L” , standing for the italian words lana (wool), letto (bed) and latte (milk). Before that antibiotics were found to be effective against the infection, the sanatorium was the main remedy, a real “machine à guérir” whose design was studied four-handed by medical doctors and architects.
The last section of the exhibition itinerary is dedicated to the Sanatorium City of Sondalo, in the italian Alps. The complex operated as sanatorium for 25 years, from 1946 to 1971, when it has been converted in general hospital. Objects used for the therapy in the open-air porches (deck chair, blankets, earphones for wire wireless radio listening) are displayed together with the technical drawings and the pictures of the big building site that completely changed the mountainside of Sondalo into a real city of health between 1932 and 1940. The exhibition itinerary ends with the painting “Pescatori a Sampieri” (Fishmen at Sampieri), painted by the Sicilian artist Ugo Caruso in 1954 during his convalescence in Sondalo. The full colours, the austere gazes and the impending pose of the characters seem to hint vehemently at the contradictions and the uncertain perspective of the world “outside”. Nevertheless the author, isolated in his temporary alpine shelter, seems to look at them with nostalgia.