The cycling museum at the Madonna del Ghisallo closed its doors on Sunday and will remain shut for at least the next five months due to a lack of funds. A provisional reopening date of March 31 is dependent on the museum securing additional funding.
The late Fiorenzo Magni was the driving force behind the establishment of the museum, which opened in October 2006. Located atop the Tour of Lombardy’s signature climb and alongside the church dedicated to the patroness of cyclists – as declared by Pope Pius XII in 1949 – there is hardly a more evocative site for a memorial to cycling’s heritage.
As well as housing a collection of historic bike and artefacts, in recent years, the museum had received donations of some 50 original pink jerseys from the Giro d’Italia thanks to the concerted efforts of the “Giro for Ghisallo” campaign.
According to Gazzetta dello Sport, only two of the museum’s three staff members will be re-hired – and on seasonal contracts – if the museum eventually does reopen next spring, while over half of the board of directors have resigned. The remaining directors will hold a meeting on November 13 or 14 to discuss plans to reopen the museum.
A cut in public funding as well as a slowdown in private donations has meant that the museum has been increasingly reliant on entry fees and merchandising to ensure its survival. Those revenue streams reportedly brought in just €12,000 in the past year, however, and the cost of running the museum is some €100,000 per annum. Gazzetta estimates a current shortfall of €80,000 in the museum’s finances.
The Lombardy region’s assessor for sport, Antonio Rossi, has pledged that the regional government’s sports and culture departments will work with the Italian Olympic Committee to save the Madonna del Ghisallo museum.
“In the coming days we’ll meet with the museum’s management, local representatives and volunteers,” Rossi told Il Giornale. “Together with CONI, we’ll look to establish a new form of management. No, the museum won’t disappear – it’s part of the world heritage of sport and it should be conserved and protected.”
Ernesto Colnago is among those who has declared himself willing to try and help ensure that the museum reopens next spring. “There needs to be a first phase to make up the deficit and another to re-launch the museum,” Colnago told Il Giornale. “The entry tickets [€6] and merchandising aren’t sufficient. Magni was thinking about launching a ‘Ghisallo’ or ‘Lion of Flanders’ line of bikes, but maybe it would be easier to organise events with Ghisallo at the heart of them.”