by Cinzia Dugo
Prato: the capital city of textiles
The ancient city of Prato has been well known for its textile production since the Middle Ages and has recently been rewarded by the opening of a museum dedicated specifically to this traditional cottage industry, a priceless and unique testimonial of the close relationship that has developed in the new province between tradition, culture and industry. The founding of this important new museum, situated in Piazza del Comune, represents the ambitious realization of a project that dates from 1975; the original nucleus of textile samples is based on a donation from Loriano Bertini, a private collector, and was first arranged and listed in archives by the "Tullio Buzzi" Industrial and Technical Institute. The couragious idea of providing Prato with a permanent 'artistic display' of this type gradually took shape, thanks also to several other additions and large donations, and the Tuscan city has thus acquired a definite right to call itself the capital of textiles, as well as being able to combine its traditional industrial role with that of a city of art. Today the Prato Textile Museum, carried out with the help of public and private funding, contains a rich collection of about six thousand textile samples, dating from pre-Christian times to today. The large collection of Italian and modern textiles is particularly interesting, ranging from the industrial revolution to the present day. The Modern section is also well worth noting with its display of samples from "fashion tendencies" at Prato Expo from 1982. The collection is completed by a series of religious vestments and furnishings as well as textile machinery and equipment from various periods.
Visitors to the fascinating city of Prato should therefore make a point of stopping off to admire all these precious and ancient materials on display in a museum that marks an important moment in the history and evolution of modern textiles.