Via del Mulino di Colle, 14 Usella Cantagallo (PO)
The Materia Museum is not a traditional museum. It's an instrument to create environmental awareness and to communicate the art, history and technology developed in the textile industry over the last number of decades, especially in val di Bisenzio and Prato.
The building which houses the museum has been used since the Middle Ages for productive purposes. At one time it was a mill with three grindstones, a gualchiera (fulling mill), an iron foundry, a copper mill and a combing machine. In the twentieth century, a kiln and a dyehouse was added. Water is the protagonist of the museum. It is considered as a raw material both at the time of the fulling mill and in modern times, as it is essential to all dyeing processes.
The two main experiential attractions are the Confessional, where visitors can reflect on their role in environmental pollution, and Augumented Reality, where you are catapulted into a sort of journey through time from the medieval fulling to the future prospects of the textile factory.
A must-see when visiting the underground spaces of the Materia Museum in Cantagallo is the so-called “inferno” where the hydraulic wheels were housed. Here you will find a beautiful wooden mill-wheel and rare remains of a vertical cast-iron turbine from the 19th century. Outside, an old Kaplan turbine with fixed blades is visible along with other historical turbines like the Girard and the Francis.