The Ethnographic Museum and Po Aquarium at Monticelli d’Ongina is the perfect place for lovers of nature, and of the skills and traditions of yesteryear. Located in Piazza Casali, the Museum was built in 1974 in the wide rock cellars constructed in the 15th century by Rolando Pallavicino, and features frescos by Bonifacio Bembo in its chapel.
Visitors can admire ancient tools and typical peasant artifacts from the low Padana Plain and the river environment. Apart from a permanent collection, it also displays archeological and paleontological finds from the Po valley, while the Aquarium offers twenty-odd tanks detailing the fish population of the river. Another important element of the castle is the court chapel, that features a cycle of frescos produced by Bonifacio Bembo.
You can see local species live, with information panels that offer scientific information on their spread and on the environment. The display also includes two scale models with examples of our local fauna: reptiles, mammals and birds. The museum also creates a snapshot of the traditional activities of life along the Po river: you can see the facilities used for various types of work, fishing equipment, gravel digging equipment, nets, harpoons and other material that illustrate life in the Padana riviera. The highlight of this section is a pre-historic pirogue in an excellent state of preservation.
You can also see the preserved remains of mammoths, bison, deer and elks, dating back fitfteen-twenty thousand years, relics from the Roman period, and remains of crockery. We also have more recent finds, such as a homemade well along the Po river that dates back to the 18th century, when a huge area along the bank of the river was overwhelmed and destroyed by one of the regular floods caused by the Po. Finally, inside the Aquarium and the Ethnographic Museum, there is a large space dedicated to peasant life and traditional working methods, that includes materials used in working the fields, plows, harrows, rollers, and scythes. As for the jobs themselves (knife grinders, broom makers, coopers, blacksmiths and spinners), you can see numerous tools that are no longer used, plus a huge range of household items and tools from yesteryear.
We suggest that you visit the Museum’s website for more information on opening hours, but we would also point out that you can park in the nearby square, behind the council building. Our members receive a 20% discount on the entrance cost to the Museum, if they present their membership card at the moment of purchase.