Piero Benzi, Museo dello Shangri-La [The Museum of Shangri-La]

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About the Artist/Site

Benzi, a native of Piedmont, was a former bell tower technician. In the 1960s he dedicated himself to an environmental mission, and in 1965 founded the Ecological Movement Shangri-La. He led several marches, particularly against ACNA – the National Company of Dyes and Related Colorants – a large chemical company best known for the land and water pollution resulting from its activities: he chained himself to bell towers and spread leaflets.


With his wife Rosa, Benzi also toured the southern Piedmont region, concentrating on attics, cellars, and dumps, and over time he gathered an impressive collection that became his “Museum of Tools and Old and Ancient Objects of Men.” This museum includes an unknown number of objects, but clearly thousands and thousands of pieces, including radios, bicycles, toys, pottery, farming tools, and more.

In addition to his collections of found objects, Benzi himself also created installations that he displayed in and around the museum; many of them included objects labeled with satiric or sarcastic writings. Altogether they became a spectacular and scenic maze made up of a variety of spaces with tables and shelves that stretched to 600 square meters (almost 6500 square feet). The museum was visited by lovers of antiques, among others, but in recent years it sustained significant damage from bad weather and landslides. Too, there were increasing complaints from neighbors, which increased the artist’s feeling of isolation and persecution in his last years.

The museum is still extant, however, and is located just minutes from the thermal baths of this region.

~Gabriele Mina


Map and site information

16 Regione Lacia
Acqui Terme, Piemonte, Italy
Latitude/Longitude: 44.652729 / 8.470797


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