“I haven’t given up yet”, says Pallanzotto when he is obliged by Duke Francesco Sforza to overcome huge difficulties. Pallanzotto was the pseudonym of a certain Bertolotto de’ Giorgi di Pallanza, cloth merchant. Having boasted of his wealth and ability to cover the majority of the surface of Lake Maggiore with a ‘cremisile’ fabric, Pallanzotto was invited and then obliged by the Duke of Milan to build the Castello Sforzesco tower at his own expense, later named after him and still called Torre del Pallanzotto today. “I haven’t given up yet” is the motto which the Landscape Museum adopted in 1914, fully aware of the difficulties it faced in achieving its aims.
1909: Antonio Massara and the multi town council association Pro Verbano founded the Museo Storico Artistico del Verbano e delle Valli adiacenti art and history museum in Pallanza,
1914: the museum was rechristened Museo del Paesaggio and moved to Palazzo Viani Dugnani. Its founders included: the Educational Department, Novara province, Pallanza town hall, Touring Club Italiano, Camera di Commercio di Novara, Banca Popolare di Novara and Banca Popolare di Intra.
1938: Paolo Troubetzkoy’s heirs donated his plaster casts to the museum.
1961: Vittorio Tonolli offered the archaeological finds excavated at Ornavasso by Enrico Bianchetti in the late 19th century to the museum.
1981: with contributions from the Piedmont Region the museum bought 53 works by Arturo Martini.
1988: the Centro Studi del Paesaggio Landscape Study Centre was set up.
1996: the museum’s collections were enlarged with the Eugenio Cefis (5023 ex-voto) and Arnaldo Tozzi (19 paintings by Mario Tozzi) donations.
1999: at the new Palazzo Biumi Innocenti headquarters a new religion, art and culture section was set up with 715 painted ex votos.
2000: the archaeology section was opened with the Bianchetti collection.
2007: the museum’s third building, called Casa Ceretti, was set up at Verbania Intra.
Antonio Massara (Meina 1878 – Como 1926), from a Novara family, graduated in literature and philosophy and arrived in Pallanza in 1904 to teach at its Regio Ginnasio.
Having already done important studies on local culture in Novara (philosopher Pier Lombardo, popular culture, painter Gaudenzio Ferrari) – he identified its landscape as Verbano’s greatest asset, an asset whose authenticity he believed was threatened by tourism, industry and building.
Convinced that the landscape could not be defended from above, via the law, but from below, with greater awareness from the people, he launched an awareness raising and popularisation campaign which culminated, in 1909, in the adoption of two tools for the purpose: a journal, Verbania, and a museum, Museo Storico e Artistico del Verbano e delle Valli adiacenti, later called Museo del Paesaggio. And ‘his’ museum took in the work of artists capable of communicating the soul of the Verbania landscape including Gignous, Boggiani and his beloved Tominetti.
Antonio Massara was nominated advisor to the Associazione Nazionale per i Paesaggi e i Monumenti Pittoreschi d’Italia nel 1909 and advisor to the Comitato Nazionale per la Difesa del Paesaggio e dei Monumenti Italici in 1913.