Having proven a runaway success in Milan, the Esselunga Supermostra comes to Florence, where the Italian supermarket chain opened its first ever Tuscan store in 1961. Combining multimedia visuals, trolley installations and posters of memorable products, this immersive exhibition offers a social flashback of changing Italian fashion, foods and commercials.
The chronological exhibition tracing 60 years of the supermarket chain’s history leads visitors on a colourful discovery of important moments in Esselunga’s development, from the first ready-made meals in the 1970s to the advent of online shopping in 2001.
Visitors are welcomed by three tills dating to the 1960s with cashiers dressed in period uniforms. Then we find yourselves catapulted back to November 27, 1957 for the opening of the first supermarket in Milan, in an immersive videomapping show reliving the excitement experienced by customers at the time.
Alongside the iconic ads by comic artist Benito Jacovitti, a “Wunderkammer” installation illustrates the Italy of the past, featuring a nostalgic collection of objects and original images with which Italians would have been acquainted in their daily lives. It is this inventive display of the ordinary and everyday that is so unexpected, such as the simple process of creating lasagne illustrated step-by-step in a zoetrope mini-film.
A space is dedicated to the evolution of the supermarket’s advertising, from the changing logo of the ‘elongated S’ to the iconic slogans and campaigns of Armando Testa, including the comic food-inspired celebrities from John Lemon to Bufala Bill.
With the 1990s introduction of the Fìdaty Card and collection of Punti Fragola, a room is devoted to the various gifts offered with a strawberry-shaped throne providing the ideal selfie opportunity. Current owners of a Fìdaty Card are also invited to take part in a prize draw, which includes a golden trolley valued at 25,000 euro, 60 vouchers worth 2,000 euro each and a jackpot prize of 145,000 euro.
The exhibition concludes with a kaleidoscopic space reflecting the Esselunga of today, with video snippets of products and food processing matched to the beat of the soundtrack. Tuscan highlights, especially for this stop on the itinerant exhibition’s tour, include a focus on how pecorino cheese is produced in Manciano and fishing in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the Tuscan coast.
The free exhibition at Florence’s Stazione Leopolda is open from 10am to 7pm (8pm on Saturdays) every day from March 28 to April 21.