Open since 1984, the museum was set up thanks to research carried out by Forestry Inspector G. Spada and officials of the Venice State Archives in collaboration with the cultural association of the Cansiglio Cimbri, State Forestry Corps and a number of enthusiastic scholars.
The Museum’s exhibits are divided into different sections: historical, with documents relating to the complex aspects of the long period of Venetian dominion; ethnographical regarding the Cimbri (historical notes, economic activity, linguistic aspects); economic, with panels and information sheets about the history and evolution of woodcutting, deforestation, charcoal making and animal breeding. Although the sections are different, they all have a common theme, i.e. the exploitation of the forest’s resources by humans. Worthy of note is the three-dimensional scale model that reproduces the whole Karst plateau, affording an overall view of the main characteristics of the territory.
Really interesting are the archeological and paleoenvironmental information, results of researches which the University of Ferrara has been carrying out in Cansiglio since 1993, that testifies to uncontestable traces of the presence of Prehistoric Man perhaps from as far back as 100,000 years ago. More certain data, however, refer to a more recent prehistoric stage, thanks to the greater number of archeological sites and their better state of conservation.
Such settlements give us an idea of the relationships between the Cansiglio and groups of hunters/gatherers who frequented the plateau systematically 12,000 years ago in order to exploit the food resources offered by the woods that had grown after the last Quaternary glaciation. Man of the superior Palaeolithic era established his first camps where researchers have found instruments commonly used for survival activities (graters, spotted blades and burins for working leather, wood, horn and bone).
Of special interest is the site at Palughetto, in the vicinity of a wetland area and near the museum, where primitive Man created a deposit of pebbles to be chipped as and when needed. In fact, on the western slopes of the Pian Cansiglio many settlements from the Mesolithic era, dating from 10,000 to 8,000 years ago, have been identified due to the presence of numerous stone objects shone at museum: it is likely that some of these settlements were home to men dedicated exclusively to the preparation of hunting weapons.
These finds lead us to think that during the superior Palaeolithic and Mesolithic eras the groups of hunters-gatherers adopted a semi-nomad type of existence: during the winter they settled in the Alpago or on the Veneto-Friuli plains, and between late spring and early autumn they lived in the mountains.
The Cansiglio was also hugely important for the Venetian state: its numerous beechwoods were mainly used for the production of oars for special boats (galea), timber and charcoal. In the Museum it is possible to see both a big oar recently remade of beechwood and the ancient tools used to prepare it. A wooden model of a Venetian galea (venetian boat) will be soon exposed together with the other wooden models of a Venetian water sawmill and of a special mountain dam both used in the past in Cansiglio for the timber exploitation.