From 6 to 8 June, Turin is hosting the first edition of Archivissima, the international festival of archives that will bring the city’s cultural institutions and historic companies to life thanks to a free programme of events staged in dozens of locations throughout the city. FCA Heritage is sponsoring the event with the shared aim of enhancing and promoting traditional heritage, a mission that is at the centre of the department that protects the history of FCA’s Italian brands.
For the duration of the event, the famous Centro Storico Fiat-located in the elegant art nouveau style building in Via Chiabrera 20 in Turin-will host an exhibition entitled “Behind the adverts”, which will offer the general public a close-up look at a number of precious poster sketches from the museum’s collection, displayed in digitised format for the first time. Previously unpublished artworks will go on show, including reproductions and originals of preparatory drawings by illustrators such as Mario Sironi, Giuseppe Romano, Plinio Codognato, Giuseppe Riccobaldi, Marcello Dudovich and Mario Puppo, which document techniques, stylistic transformations and the search for a language with which to promote the company and its products throughout the course of the 20th century.
On the one hand, the draft posters depict cars, trucks, tractors, seaplanes, trains and washing machines-all bearing the Fiat brand-and on the other hand, warriors, explorers, elegant or daydreaming ladies, bell boys, businessmen and even metropolises, factories and wheat fields. By recombining these ingredients, the sketches recapture-sometimes with refreshing results superior to the final adverts, which are themselves exhibited at the Centro Storico Fiat-the ideals of elegance, speed, power and essential lines that were the shared legacy of the company and the leading artistic movements of the 20th century.
In order to make the exhibition available to the widest possible public, the Centro Storico Fiat will operate extended opening hours during Archivissima: from 3:00 pm to 8:00 pm on 6 and 7 June, and from 3:00 pm to 11:00 pm on 8 June. Furthermore, to mark the third edition of The night of the archives, on the evening of 8 June starting at 8:30 pm, the Centro Storico Fiat will host the reading of a story by author Stefano Trinchero inspired by its archive materials. This will be followed by a flashmob performance entitled “Turin-Detroit and back. The dawn of Fiat Fordism” by students from the Liceo Coreutico Germana Erba dance school and finally a short roundtable discussion.
The building in which the Centro Storico Fiat is located was built in 1907 and was the first extension of the original workshop situated in Corso Dante where Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino (FIAT) was established. Since 1963 it has hosted a permanent exhibition illustrating the establishment and technological, social and economic development of Fiat. In 2011 the exhibition area was expanded for the celebrations organised for the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy and today spans over 3000 square metres.
The museum illustrates the excellence of Fiat technology in all areas. Interesting exhibits include the first aviation engine built in 1908, war and farming production, a Littorina motor coach used on Italian railways in the 1930s, massive marine engines, bicycles and electrical appliances, which characterised the birth of the consumer society in Italy after World War II. Of course, cars are the stars of the show: vintage models created in the first half of the 1900s which still express all the charm of modernity today.
The key stages of Fiat’s proud history are presented in an enormous collection of cars, memorabilia, models, advertising posters and a huge archive. Currently, the Centro Storico documents Fiat’s activities during the 20th century in various areas and includes over 5000 meters of paper documents, 300,000 technical drawings, 18,000 posters, 1300 sketches, 5000 books and magazines on automotive and industrial history, 6 million pictures and 200 hours of historical films.
The reconstructions of the shop floors of Fiat’s most symbolic plants illustrate the evolution of manufacturing methods, from the humble hand-crafted beginnings in the first workshop in Corso Dante to the Mirafiori assembly line of the 1950s and the office of Dante Giacosa, the engineer who designed the Topolino, the 600 and the 500, which are the cars that put Italy on wheels.