Local Museum: The Clock Museum
In the Montani Palazzo in Piazza Risorgimento the visitor can find a fascinating museum of the history of time-keeping, the ‘Museo dell’Orologio di Montefiore dell’Aso’.
The group which set up the museum was headed by an eminent local impresario and clock restorer, Oronzo Mauro. The first piece on display at the opening of the museum in 2014 was the large, elaborate clock designed by Ennio Melloncelli in the second half of the 19th century.
It was given to the town of Montefiore, to take pride of place in the clocktower.
The museum houses many different time-keeping instruments, showing the progression of this science through time. There are several solar clocks, or sundials, and one of the centre pieces is a Roman sundial which was locally made in the second century and found on the site of a Roman villa nearby.
The sundial which had always been in Piazza della Repubblica, but was removed after the second world war at a time when all fascist emblems were also being removed. This was restored and added to the collection in 2015.
There is also an exhibition of photographs of three sundials, or solar clocks, from different locations in the town. There is a beautiful clock case with an escapement mechanism from the end of the 19th century, an early electric clock from Milan, and also a 19th century hourglass.
Reconstruction of a Medieval Clock Escapement
This medieval time mechanism is on show at the museum at the moment, thanks to a project instigated by the curators of the museum. It is about a mechanism with verge and foliot with which the Benedictine monks from the 1st century (1,000) began to measure time between one prayer and the next (liturgy of the hours, canonical hours).
The video shows a reproduction of the mechanism by which the free fall of a weight is transformed into regulated rotary motion. By means of a balancer the mechanism (foliot) is made to beat every one second.
(My own added explanation for the layman! The first escapement was the verge and foliot mechanism. The foliot is a horizontal bar with weights on either end. It sits on a vertical rod, called a verge. The verge has pallets to engage and release the main gear which is turned by a heavy stone on the end of a cable.)
In 2017 the Montefiore Clock Museum successfully added a magnificent tower clock to its collection. The clock was found abandoned and almost forgotten in a cellar. The museum took one year to restore and bring the clock back to working order. The tower clock was built by the Orsolini brothers of Montegiorgio (Province of Fermo) in 1866. The clock is 150 cm long, 80 cm wide, 90 cm high with a pendulum of 2.7 meters in length.
The success of this project reflects the museum’s commitment to become the most important centre for the study, restoration, conservation and safeguarding of historic clocks in Central Italy.
An exciting new entry to the Clock Museum
The Montefiore dell'Aso Clock Museum continues to expand thanks to an effective acquisition plan that at the end of 2017 brought to its tower clock collection a fantastic clock attributable to the Serenissima engineer, Bartolomeo Ferracina (1692-1777).
Engineer Ferracina, who specialized in hydraulics and mechanics of the time, built several mechanical clocks throughout his life.
The acquisition, a medium sized clock (65 x 45 cm), is now kept in Montefiore dell'Aso and was probably commissioned for a private villa.
Over the next two months, the Ferracina clock will be restored in Milan and then will return to the Clock Museum to be permanently displayed along with an introduction to engineer Ferracina.
For the Montefiore dell'Aso Clock Museum, this is an important acquisition which enhances the museum's reputation for safeguarding, restoring and showcasing exciting vintage clocks. Moreover, it strengthens the Museum’s ability to attract private collections.
During 2017, the Montefiore dell'Aso Clock Museum enabled almost 3000 people to immerse themselves in the magic of time, including astronomical, mechanical and mysterious clocks. Children, adults, Italians or foreigners, citizens or tourists, all have been fascinated by our stories and equally by the pride and joy we take in protecting and enhancing our clock collection.
Portable Clock Collection
The Montefiore dell’Aso Museum also displays over 80 portable clocks from Europe and America
dating from the early 18th to 20th century including Art Nouveau, Arts & Crafts and Art Deco. There is a wide variety of vintage timepieces on display, ranging from early hourglasses to travel alarm clocks, table and mantel clocks and carriage clocks.
Many different materials are used in the manufacture of these clocks; marble, wood, gilt metal, copper,
brass, cast iron, nickel, tin, celluloid and pewter.
You can find a selection of our clocks at the bottom of the gallery below.
The Clock Museum is managed by the "Montefiore dell'Aso Museum of the Clock Association". See our website (www.meccanicadeltempo.org) for more info.
Admission is free, but donations are welcome.