The San Salvatore Museum, which opened in 1999 and is located on the summit, was set up by the Mount San Salvatore Funicular railway company in partnership with the Archfraternity of Good Death and Prayer and named “Santa Marta”.
The rooms which house the museum collections have been meticulously restored, but once formed an ancient hospice used since its construction at the end of the 17th century to provide shelter to the poor and travellers making pilgrimages to the San Salvatore church, and for the dutiful spiritual retreats of the confraternity and any hermit friars who wished to make a pilgrimage there.
Over the past decade the Museum has added exciting new exhibitions, again linked to the history of the mountain and structures built on it.
Spread over two floors, the museum currently offers the following exhibitions:
Rooms 1-2-3 of the ground floor house a collection of rare and precious religious art objects: works of art and documents illustrating the history and the social and cultural importance of the work carried out by the Brethren over the centuries.
On the first floor, room 4 houses a permanent, highly educational exhibition featuring a collection of geological material – rocks, mineral and fossils – which illustrates the geological evolution of the local area, and the San Salvatore region in particular. The exhibition reveals the secrets of nature through these tiny natural jewels created over millions of years and once hidden deep below our feet.
Another display definitely not to be missed is the museum’s exhibition devoted to speleology. Room 5 is dedicated to caves, a natural landscape feature which abounds in Ticino, with over 190 caves documented to date. The exhibition explores the natural wonders hidden deep underground and in the belly of Mount San Salvatore. Through speleology, visitors are taken on an amazing, magical journey through the region’s underground caves, which provide valuable clues to the geological evolution of this landscape.
The final exhibition space, room 6, is dedicated to the historical significance of lighting and of lightning research. Mankind has always been fascinated by this universal phenomenon and has long tried to unveil its mysteries. “Tracking down lightning” is the title of this new exhibition.
Through the history of the lightning research centre, a world-renowned laboratory equipped with sophisticated technology for monitoring and measuring lightning which operated on the summit from 1943 to 1982, directed by Professor Berger of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, the exhibition illustrates the unusual activities that for nearly 40 years defined the history of the mountain.