Museum of Uses and Customs
Popular culture and mysterious masterpieces
In its courtyards and cells, the thousand-year-old fortified monastery keeps one of the most important Italian collections of handicraft works, popular culture and traditions. And an enigmatic fresco commissioned by Maximilian I of Habsburg.
The Museo degli usi e costumi della Gente Trentina in San Michele all'Adige is one of the most important museums for popular culture and tradition in Italy, and among the major ones in the Alps. It is housed in a fascinating architectural complex, the Augustinian Provostship, a fortified convent that existed already in the mid 12th century, for hundreds of years the most southern outpost of German monasticism.
Emperor Maximilian I of Augsburg used to stay there for long periods of time. He commissioned a peculiar fresco that can be admired in one of the courtyards: the chessboard painted in 1516, bearing for as many as 144 times the name Maximilianus, as in an enigmatic crossword puzzle.
43 rooms, distributed on 5 floors, are divided by subject: agriculture; wood, metal and fabric handicraft; animal farming and highland pastures; hunting; worship; traditions.
We owe the ethnographic collections to the Trentino-Bohemian scholar Giuseppe Šebesta and his tireless research in the Trentino territory; they were placed in the monastery in 1968.