‘In 2000, Pietro Catelli turned 80. There would have been too many candles on the cake; they would not have all fit. And so, since he was unable to eat sweets anyway, he came up with a different way to celebrate. As a child, he did not have very many toys, and so he decided to give himself and anyone else who wanted to take part a toy horse. And not just one: ten, one hundred, one thousand. A whole museum of toy horses, to teach children how to turn off the computer and use their imagination.

Excerpted from: Luca Masia, Il signor Chicco. La vita straordinaria di un uomo qualunque (‘Mr Chicco. The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man’).

The Museo del Cavallo Giocattolo was inaugurated on 14 April 2000 on the wishes of Cavaliere del Lavoro Pietro Catelli, founder of Gruppo Artsana. The museum, the only one in the world dedicated to toy horses, celebrates one of the symbols par excellence of childhood in all historical periods. The Museum, located within the Chicco Village in Grandate, displays a collection of more than 600 toy horses, dating from 1700 to the present day, of various different kinds: rocking horses, tricycles, chairs, baby walkers, little carts and carousel horses. The original nucleus of the collection was donated to the museum by Pietro Catelli and the collection is constantly expanded thanks to the frequent donations it receives. Many people donate their childhood toys to the museum, since it preserves them with care and keeps them from the dust of cellars and attics. Each horse in the collection has a name, traditionally chosen by the person who donated it to the museum. Since July 2002, the museum has been the home of the largest rocking horse in Europe. Five metres high and seven metres long, Roberto was created in 2002 for Roberto Benigni’s film ‘Pinocchio’. Since 2004, the museum collection has been further enriched by the Lehmann collection: 41 pieces of screen-printed tin produced in Germany starting at the end of the nineteenth century.

The building housing the museum today was once a horse farm called Al Portichetto and owned by the Manzoni family. In July 1952, these rooms witnessed the birth of the legendary racehorse Tornese, a many-time world champion. After having transformed the site into an industrial area, Cavalier del Lavoro Catelli later decided to give this legendary spot back to the horses, returning them to the home of that majestic steed. On the day of the museum’s inauguration, he said, ‘I felt terrible knocking down the stables, but I had purchased the land in order to create an industrial area. Later, since I have always believed in the importance of leaving one’s mark, I decided to create this museum and this is my testimony’.

The Museo del Cavallo Giocattolo is Artsana Group’s corporate museum and since 2001 has been a member of Museimpresa, an association promoted by Assolombarda and Confindustria which has the goal of indentifying, promoting and connecting businesses that have chosen to prioritise culture in their communications strategies as a tool for economic development and giving added value to the company.

The museum was awarded the Guggenheim Business and Culture prize, in recognition of the value of its choice of a theme in line with the mission of the Chicco brand.



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