A Fascism Museum Is Coming to Benito Mussolini’s Hometown

Officials hope it will help people reflect on the era.

Italian dictator Benito Mussolini (1883 - 1945). (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Will tourists flock to a museum dedicated to fascism? Officials in Predappio, the small community in northern Italy where famed dictator Benito Mussolini was born, are banking that they might.

The town, with a population shy of 7,000 residents, hosts thousands of tourists each year who come to celebrate Mussolini’s birth, death, and the anniversary of the 1922 March on Rome, when Il Duce’s fascist party took power. Authorities in Predappio announced they will move forward with the creation of a museum dedicated to the authoritarian political movement, which will cost about €5 million ($5.6 million)—about half of which has been secured so far—and could open its doors as early as 2019.

For obvious reasons, the project has drawn criticism from those concerned it will become a hotbed for neo-fascist sympathizers and a celebration of a man allied with Adolf Hitler. However, the town’s mayor assures skeptics that this is not the case.

“In Italy we tend to associate the term museum to some form of celebration, but our project by no means intends to celebrate fascism or Mussolini,” mayor Giorgio Frassineti told CNN. “That’s why I’d rather call it a research and documentation center.”

The institution will host permanent and temporary exhibitions and feature a research center, historical archive, library, and bookstore. The planned site is just over a kilometer (0.62 miles) from Mussolini’s crypt, where groups of neo-fascists often gather.

“Reflection on issues like fascism is never easy. Symbolic places like Predappio can help bring it forward,” Frassineti said, adding that as thousands of Mussolini lovers flock to the city yearly, a museum “would help us take the town from their hands and make it a place of research and reflection.”

The Italian government has committed to aiding in the construction of the museum, but wants to shift the focus to Italian history in the first half of the 20th century. Italian newspaper La Stampa reports the government will grant €2 million ($2.2 million) to the project.

The museum will be established with the aid of ANPI, the National Association of the Italian Partisans, which was founded by participants in the Italian resistance.

“We hope our presence can eliminate all celebratory aspects of the museum,” ANPI president Carlos Sarpieri told the Local. “We will be keeping an eye on things to make sure it’s done with the due historical and scientific rigour.”

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