Museum for the Memory of Ustica – Bologna, Italy - Atlas Obscura

Museum for the Memory of Ustica

The wreckage of a tragic plane crash is on display at this museum devoted to a famous Italian conspiracy. 


The remains of a conspiracy-shrouded Italian airplane disaster fill the expansive hangar of Bologna’s Museum for the Memory of Ustica, a tragic display of wreckage and remnants searching for answers.  

Aerolinee Itavia Flight 870, also known in the Italian media as the Ustica Massacre (“Strage di Ustica”), was an Italian flight that suffered an in-flight explosion while in route from Bologna to Palermo, Italy, killing all 81 passengers. While no concrete explanation for the explosion has ever been confirmed, the case has been embroiled in controversy and scandal since it occurred. It is clear that the plane was brought down by a missile strike, but the origin of the missile is a matter of debate. Initially the Italian government blamed an unnamed foreign power trying to incite war, but as the years and investigations dragged on, it became clear that the missile was likely fired by the Italian military itself. To this day, no clear story has been put forth but the evidence is overwhelming that it had to do with a stray Italian missile and the Italian government has recently been ordered to pay compensation to the families of the victims.   

As a memorial to the victims, The Museum for the Memory of Ustica was opened. The museum is in possession of a majority of the parts of the crashed plane, including most of the external fuselage of the plane. An Italian artist was commissioned to create the permanent display which, in addition to the wreckage, contains 81 mirrors which hide speakers that project whispered messages. There are also 81 hanging bulbs which constantly flicker on and off. A number of personal items were also collected from the crash site and have been put into black boxes which allow them to be in the museum without having the personal effects being gaped at.

Plenty of museums allow visitors to experience tragic events, but very few allow people to actually walk among the wreckage. The Museum for the Memory of Ustica makes the violent loss of life far more clear than the story of the actual event.  

Know Before You Go

Enter the garden of Via di Saliceto 3-5 through the gate, Museum is inside the garden.

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