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Trento | The MUSE Museum by Renzo Piano

Place: Trent, Country: Italy
Owner: Provincia Autonoma di Trento
Museum concept: Michele Lanzinger
Architectural design: RPBW - Renzo Piano Building Workshop
Exhibition design: RPBW, Museo della Scienza di Trento, Natural History Museum London, Land Design Studio
Lighting design: Piero Castiglioni
Text by Federica Lusiardi / Inexhibit
Photos by Riccardo Bianchini / Inexhibit
All rights reserved

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View of the central foyer, detail. Photo: Inexhibit

The MUSE Science Museum in Trent

The MUSE, the new Science Museum of Trento, opened in July 2013. The Museum mission is to ”explain Nature, beginning from the mountain landscape, with the eyes, the instruments and the questions of the scientific research, rising the challenges of today, encouraging scientific curiosity and the pleasure of knowledge so to give value to science, innovation and sustainability”

The Urban project
The MUSE is part of a urban neighborhood created by the regeneration of a former industrial area, located in the western part of Trent, and dismissed in the 1980s. The urban renewal project had redesigned an entire portion of the city, in all its functional complexity. The old industrial facilities have been converted into commercial and retail premises, residences, offices and public buildings, such as the MUSE.

MUSE museum Trento Renzo Piano bird eye view

Bird’s eye view, photo Alessandro Gadotti – Archivio TrentoFutura

Muse science museum trento alto

View of the new district and night view of the MUSE, photos Alessandro Gadotti – Archivio TrentoFutura

MUSE museum Trento Renzo Piano section 01

Cross section

The MUSE extends on a rectangular lot, it is articulated on five floor levels above ground and two levels underground, one used for car parking. The building achieved a high level of sustainability, obtained through a broad adoption of renewable sources and high-efficiency technical systems. The MUSE is therefore a very contemporary building both in its conception and in its realisation. The metaphor that inspired the architecture of the museum is that of a mountain, clearly perceivable in a sequence of sloping surfaces that marks the museum appearance.


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Renzo Piano at Muse museum Trento

Renzo Piano at the MUSE, photo by Massimo Zarucco. PAT press archive

MUSE museum Trento Renzo Piano ground floor plan

MUSE, ground floor plan

Museography and exhibition design
The MUSE interior is composed of hybrid and interlinked multifunctional  spaces.
The exhibition galleries, presenting a different theme on each level of the building (high mountain tops, alpine nature/climate, geology, people/sustainability, history of life on Earth/tropical greenhouse) are coupled to areas featuring hands-on exhibits, workshops, recreational spaces and learning areas specifically addressed to children and schools. The galleries, which ideally have to be visited by starting from the building top and progressively descending to the ground floor, are arranged around the core of the museum, a large central void, conceived to let the visitors perceive the museum as a coherent whole. Inside this full-height space an imposing installation is housed, made of taxidermied animals, suspended in the void and arranged so to mirror the vertical distribution of alpine fauna.

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Views of the central foyer “populated” by animals. Photos: Inexhibit

MUSE Renzo Piano exhibition scheme

Schematic view of the foyer exhibition concept

The exhibition layout is inspired to the zero gravity principle, a definition coined by Renzo Piano meaning that every exhibit and internal element is arranged so to be as visually lightweight as possible. For example, monitors, display cases and image panels are supported by thin cables stretched from floor to ceiling and the space dedicated to exhibitions is brightly lit and designed to encourage socialisation and curiosity. Such approach has, however, also some drawbacks, for example the the absence of physical (and acoustical) separation between the functional areas inevitably makes the galleries a bit too noisy.
Another feature of the MUSE, its tropical greenhouse, a space physically separated from the rest of the museum for technical and climatic reasons and dedicated to biodiversity, is truly captivating. Finally, the quality of the museum educational service areas,  such as its workshops, laboratories and learning spaces is really worth to be mentioned.



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Views of the permanent exhibition galleries: almost all exhibits are suspended to cables. Photos: Inexhibit


One of the reconstuctions reproducing the prehistoric inhabitants of the Alps. 

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The tropical greenhouse. Photo: Inexhibit 

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MUSE Trento Museo delle Scienze Science Museum

The MUSE is a science museum in Trento housed in an iconic building designed by the famous Italian architect Renzo Piano to resemble a mountain

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