Documento Mese Agosto2015

The Veneranda Fabbrica at Expo: yesterday, today, forever

The Document of the Month of August 2015

From 1906 to today. Expo in Milan is nothing new

Way back in 1906, the Lombard capital hosted the major International Exposition, presenting itself as a showcase of a world in rapid evolution. The event celebrated the Simplon Tunnel, an extraordinary feat of engineering which had just opened to rail traffic on 1 June 1906: this Alpine pass, which since the days of the Romans had been the main route between Italy and Central Western Europe, was now on the verge of perfecting its vocation, connecting the social, economic and commercial elements of various cultures, with a double tunnel built in a very short time, especially given the technical difficulties encountered along the way.

Progress, celebrated yesterday

This historical Expo thus celebrated technical progress, movement, and the different and exciting new means of transport that had suddenly become available. In this atmosphere full of expectations and excitement about the future, the Veneranda Fabbrica - firm, solid and with the quiet solemnity of those who are aware of their role in history - decided to participate. The chapter ordination of 9 April 1905 (OC 1905, f. 339rv) reports: 'On the proposal made by Mr. Romussi, it is being decided whether to request a stand within the Exposition area

The role of the Veneranda Fabbrica

A month later, on May 3, 1905, came the official invitation from the Commission for the Fine Arts (AD Governo Fabbrica, cart.57 fasc.11). The heading of the letter reveals the interesting detail of the change of date: the Exposition had in fact been scheduled for 1905, the estimated end date for the works on the Simplon Tunnel, and this is the year on the letter. The delay in these works, although minor, led to the Exhibition being postponed for a year, and the header was thus corrected. After general comments on the Exposition, a significant phrase can be read: "It would surely be unthinkable that an exhibition to be held in Milan could take place without reference to the facade of the Duomo." Milan and its Cathedral are recognized sharing a close, almost inseparable relationship.

Expo Milan 2015 and an ongoing commitment

After more than a century, Milan is yet again playing host to the Universal Exposition. The world has changed, and with it, the issues of the moment: the current edition arises from the need to consider that progress  in itself does not provide a guarantee for the future - that we must nourish and take care of the world that is our home. Again, the Veneranda Fabbrica part of the celebration: if in 1906 it bore witness to the application and the exercise of human ingenuity to  the creation and preservation of a remarkable monument, today it oversees the tireless efforts which are made in protecting the Cathedral, which, with its wealth of art, culture and faith, is a source of richness and nourishment for Milan, Italy and the whole world.