The Museum was opened in 2003 inside a 18th century complex. The same building is also home to the National Film Archives of the Italian Resistance, the Piedmont Institute for History of the Italian Resistance and Contemporary Society and the Primo Levi International Study Center. The permanent display - "Turin 1938 – 1948. From the Racial Laws to the Constitution" - illustrates everyday life during the war, German occupation, the Italian Resistance and the return of democracy, through the images, the sounds and the voices of witnesses presented in multimedia installations.

Starting from Turin and the surrounding area during the Second World War, the focus of the Museum extends to Europe, the 20th century and the contemporary age: temporary exhibitions are organized and hosted by the Museum, as well as conferences, film screenings, performances and educational activities. On the occasion of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Liberation Day and other major national celebration days the Museum organizes special initiatives and events. The concept of “museo diffuso” (widespread museum), highlights the link with the local territory and the commitment towards the promotion of the places of remembrance.

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Turin’s Museo Diffuso della Resistenza, della Deportazione, della Guerra, dei Diritti e della Libertà ("Widespread" Museum of Resistance, Deportation, War, Rights and Freedom) was conceived as a project of activities, which was to use different means and forms of communication. A museum of ideas rather than of objects, a space in which research and communication might come together, establishing an active dialogue with present-day society. Starting from the events in and around Turin between 1938 and 1948, and concluding its permanent display with the promulgation of the Republican Constitution, the Museum extends its field of interest to Europe and the whole of the 20th century, giving particular attention to the theme of asserting rights and freedom. Two strong points were identified: the territory – repository of traces from the past to investigate – and memory – the instrument for rereading the historical events of the community to which we belong, without losing sight of the broader scenarios of History within which these individual experiences took place.

The Museum is then an interpretation and documentation centre that is not limited to the war period but also extends to modern times, embracing themes such as human rights and freedom. A space to give basic information about that period, while the city memorials become elements of a museum route, that aims to stimulate an active reflection on contemporaneity and invite to step out of the Museum to discover the marks of our history outside in the city.

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In May 1995 the Municipality of Turin assigned an historical building in the town centre (Palazzo dei Quartieri Militari di San Celso) as the new premises for the "Giorgio Agosti" Piedmont Institute for the History of the Resistance and Contemporary Society (ISTORETO) and the National Cinematographic Archive of the Resistance (ANCR), planning and carrying out its complete restoration. While work was proceeding, additional space was prepared for the Museum. The building is part of the Quartieri Militari complex, built to the design of Filippo Juvarra in the first half of the 18th century, to house the infantry troops of king Vittorio Amedeo II. The idea for this Museum, put forward and strongly upheld by the Associations of Partisans and Deportees, dates from 1999. It grew out of the celebrations for 25th April and, later, 27th January, and as a consequence of the events organized in memorial places in those occasions by the Museum Service of the Municipality.

The Museum was opened on 30th May 2003 as the outcome of several years’ commitment to draw attention to the places of remembrance and to invite reflection on the instruments for communicating contemporary history. The spaces house a permanent display ("Turin 1938-1948. From the racial laws to the Constitution"), and host temporary exhibitions, film viewings, meetings, seminars and performances. Since 2009, the International Primo Levi Studies Center is located in the building as well. In 2016, when the Polo del ‘900 was born, the offices of its Foundation were hosted in the same building.

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An interactive multimedia route takes the visitor on a virtual tour of Turin, through eye-witness accounts, pictures, film clips and sound-recordings, in the decade from the passing of the racial laws in 1938 to the regaining of rights ratified by the Constitution of the Republic in 1948. The exhibits re-evoke experiences of the war, the Nazi-Fascist occupation, the Resistance with or without weapons, the complex return to democratic life.

A symbolic subway network through the city is used to guide the visitor through an installation which brings together a huge heritage of documents with clear and interactive communication. It is an exhibition without objects (only two on display), consisting, instead, of images, sounds and stories: an imposing mass of documents gathered in a sequence of visual and sound displays that turns collection and research items into communicative items. In the museum different types of testimonies are used: interviews (audio and video) kept in the archives, video interviews carried out for the occasion, comments by a historian and contributions by actors reading literary extracts and news. Head-phones are provided; you can then choose one of the main themes – marked along the route with a circle on the floor – and listen in each case to a brief introduction by an historian. As you go down the stair to the basement floor you can listen to accounts of personal experiences, until you reach the starting point of the tour.

1. Living everyday life. The difficulties in daily life during the war, at the front and in the city.

2. Life under the bombings. Hunger, cold and fear during the bombings.

3. Life under the Regime. The Fascist Regime between opposition and conformity.

4. Life during the Occupation. The Resistance Clandestine propaganda in Turin as told by a factory worker and one of the few women to lead an armed formation in Turin.

5. The Martinetto chair. One of the chairs used for the death penalty executions in the Martinetto firing range.

6. Multimedia table. Touching the white squares one at a time sets off a multimedia archive which relates 49 moments in the city’s history to 12 places in Turin.

7. Air-raid shelter. The shelter, 12 metres underground, provided safety for the employees of the daily newspaper “La Gazzetta del Popolo”, which was housed in the building, but also to many inhabitants of the district. It consists of four tunnels with a pointed vault structure of reinforced concrete to withstand the bombing and shockwaves. It was brought to light during refurbishment work on the building.

8. Living free. Votes for women; “summary” justice and purges; the return to political life; the return from Concentration camps.

9. Living the Constitution. The last installation brings to the reacquisition of rights, ratified by the fundamental principles of the Constitution of 1948. The Italian Constitution is presented through some emblematic articles, explained in four mirrors: Yes to Freedom, Yes to Democracy, Yes to Equality, No to Violence. By sitting in front of each mirror you activate the replay of individual accounts, passages from literature and newspaper commentaries on the selected articles of the Constitution. In the last position you can listen to the words of the constitutionalist Alfonso Di Giovine.

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The concept of museo diffuso ("widespread" or "extended" museum), was coined in Italy by an architect, Fredi Drugman (Feurs 1927 - Milan 2000), to express the close relationship between a territory and the heritage conserved in its museums. In parallel with the virtual tour proposed by the Museum, the places in the city associated with the remembrance of Resistance, Deportation, and War have in themselves become elements of a museum itinerary, aiming to create awareness and leading active, participated reflection onto contemporary issues. History is all around us, it is written in all the places we cross every day.