Handle with Care.
The Story of an Object

A documentary film by Francesco Clerici

What happens before a Museum object is showcased in an exhibition?
How much does it take to understand its story and to restore it?
Who does this job?

This is the story told by the new extraordinary film directed by Francesco Clerici, an emerging Italian director. The movie was shot entirely at the Museum, during the restoration of the Cockcroft-Walton particle accelerator displayed in the middle of the Extreme exhibition, which opened in 2016.


A mysterious artifact, taken from a collection of unusual relics from the past is being lavished with attention by a team of specialists. It looks like a futuristic sculpture, but we find that it is actually a scientific instrument.
The film follows, step by step, the restoration of a 1950 particle accelerator at the Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia in Milan. We observe the restoration of the materials, surfaces, and valves, to the recovery of memories and gestures. It is a collective rite: restorers, curators, former users of the machine work to transform a "thing" taken from the everyday life of the laboratory into a museum "object," the guardian of several stories.

The film is part of a quadrilogy dedicated to manual work as an example of intangible heritage.

The first film on “art” (Hand Gestures, 2015. 77') won the International Critics’ Award in the Forum section at the Berlin Film Festival. Handle with Care, the second chapter, focuses on the theme of "science."

Francesco Clerici’s Comments

Handle with Care it is a scientific film that also—and, above all—tells a story: it describes the life and work at the Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia in Milan.
The film describes the sounds and the passage of time during the restoration work on a "mysterious" object, whose rich past filled with hopes and fears is brought to light along with the original colors of its surfaces. The people working on it are described only through their work, their expressions and movements, their way of joking or concentrating.
The basic idea was to continue the line of thought started with Hand Gestures and to drive further into the Greek concept of téchne, but in a more contemporary context.
If the first film analyzed art and craftsmanship, becoming a film about time and its repetition, my intention regarding Handle with Care is for it to be a film about time and memory.
As almost always in my movies and short films, I have tried to be, above all, the first, hidden spectator. And I would even say (in this case, dealing with a restoration) an intimate spectator, attempting to open one of the many possible windows from which to look upon the Museum's work …
Read more in the press kit >

The adventure of the film: writing history in a participative way

The film is an independent production born spontaneously and informally, from a show of mutual interest between the film director and the Museum, during a meeting at the end of the winter of 2016.
A true artistic residency came to life, in which the poetic and aesthetic contribution of film shooting has gradually become an organic element in the work of research, study, and enhancement of the accelerator led by the Museum staff.
The process that Francesco Clerici has filmed in detail constitutes a valid example of the work that lies at the heart of every Museum and which substantiates its historical significance; a work that, nonetheless, is rarely visible in its practices and rituals.
The restoration work planned by the Museum had two components: one physical, tending toward conserving the instrument and making it possible to provide a reading for it, the other, mnemonic, aimed at recovering the context and memory, by means of oral history interviews.
In a natural way, the film shows both aspects without using face-on interviews (which the Museum has also realized, separately, for its own archives).
The film shows, or rather, it reveals, that making history in museums is an interdisciplinary and collective work, which involves highly disparate professions, social subjects, and skills. Often in museums, public history is made: the story is told rigorously and experienced together…
Read more in the press kit >


Francesco Clerici (1983) graduated in Art History and Criticism from the Università Statale di Milano. He is an award-winning documentary director and a writer. Since 2009, he has been collaborating with the Confédération Internationale des Cinémas d’Art et d’Essai and with contemporary artist Velasco Vitali, as well as teaching courses and lessons for schools and universities (Università Bicocca di Milano, Università degli studi di Milano, Università degli studi di Parma).
In 2012 he published his first book of short stories: 24 Fotogrammi: storia aneddotica del cinema (Secondavista Edizioni, 2012). Hand Gestures, his first feature film documentary, was presented at the 2015 Berlin Film Festival, in the FORUM section, where he won the International Critics’ Award (FIPRESCI).

His works have been presented at festivals all over the world (London Film Festival, Viennale, RIDM Montreal, Sarajevo Film Festival) and screened in locations such as the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the British Film Institute of London, the Irish Film Institute of Dublin, the Cineteca Nacional de Mexico of Mexico City, the Cinemateca Uruguaya de Montevideo, the Dundee Contemporary Art Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, the Barbican, the Festival di Filosofia Moderna di Modena, The National Sculpture Factory in Cork, the MART of Trento and Rovereto, the Centrum Sztuki Współczesnej Zamek Ujazdowski of Warsaw, the Muzeul Național al Ţăranului Român of Bucharest, the Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci in Milan, and the Palazzo Reale in Milan.


Cinémathèque de Grenoble
Grenoble, France

Dipartimento di Scienze Storiche, Geografiche e dell’Antichità
Università di Padova, Italia

Milano Movie Week, Cinema Beltrade
(view all screenings)
Milano, Italy

Cinema e scienza, Citylife Anteo
Milano, Italy

Working Title Film Festival 3, Teatro Comunale
Vicenza, Italy

Sustanaible Futures, 2nd Annual Film Festival of the Society for Applied Anthropology
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

36º Festival Cinematográfico Internacional del Uruguay
Montevideo, Uruguay

Laceno D’Oro 42, Festival Internazionale del Cinema
Avellino, Italy

360° Science and Technology Film Festival
Moscow, Russia

Cape Town International Film Market and Festival
Cape Town, South Africa

Milano Design Film Festival (MDFF), Cinema Anteo
Milano, Italy

XXII Artefacts Meeting, Musée des Arts et Métiers
Paris, France

International Intangible Heritage Film Festival (IIFF)
Jeonju, Sud Corea


FilmTv n. 39
Maneggiare con cura. Regia di Francesco Clerici” – di Ilaria Feole
“Clerici studia l’incontro fra l’oggetto e la cura millimetrica degli addetti all’esposizione; ma anche quello tra l’oggetto e le nostre aspettative, lasciando che la sua forma e la sua mole arrivino agli occhi prima di ogni altro input.”

Point Blank. Rivista online di critica cinematografica
Maneggiare con cura. Storia di un oggetto. Il proseguimento naturale del percorso intrapreso da Francesco Clerici nell'espressività tattile del patrimonio immateriale – di Giorgio Sedona
«Un mantenimento di conoscenze, di ricordi e procedure scientifiche che conduce l’oggetto dissepolto, e restaurato, all’attenzione di una società che lo recupera, concedendo fiato alla sua voce, immagini al suo sguardo, istantanee di un procedimento di restauro parallelo, orale ed antropologico quanto manuale ed oggettuale, operazioni necessarie entrambe per non indurlo a scomparire»

Society for Applied Anthropology, Newsletter
“Engaging with our Sustanaible Future at the SfAA Meetings in Philadelphia” by Carla Guerrón Monteiro, University of Delaware, USA
«[The documentary] discusses the collaboration between the filmmaker and the renowned National Museum of science and Technology Leonardo da Vinci in Milan. The documentary follows step by step the restoration of a 1950 particle accelerator at the Museum. In the process, it details the transformation of a machine used in laboratory into a museum object. […] the film ‘has been a real experiment of hybrid museology in the attempt to create a bridge between the science museum and the ethnographic museum’»

Sentieri Selvaggi
“Maneggiare con cura. Francesco Clerici al LACENO D’ORO 42” di Martina Ponziani
«È da una parte anomalo, ma sicuramente uno degli aspetti più interessanti, scoprire come questo lavoro [di restauro] sia applicato ad un oggetto scientifico. Siamo abituati a riconoscere le opere d’arte come testimonianze del nostro passato e quindi oggetto di studio e restauro, ma poche volte ci si interroga di quanto la costruzione stessa della tecnologia possa dire tanto sia degli uomini che ci si sono dedicati sia del tempo in cui è stata ideata. Filmare oggi il lavoro di restauro su una macchina significa indagare due volte l’atto pratico: quello funzionale del passato e quello di indagine nel presente»

La Lettura / Corriere della Sera
“L’inizio del futuro e la sua fine” di Severino Colombo
«Clerici, milanese, classe 1983, ha ‘vissuto’ per otto mesi la quotidianità del museo e ha filmato i lavori di restauro e ricostruzione dell’apparecchio. ‘Il mio film è scientifico e soprattutto narrativo, è un documentario d’osservazione – osserva Clerici […] - a me non interessa spiegare, la spiegazione è chiusa, dopo che l’hai ascoltata e hai imparato qualcosa finisce lì; invece nel cinema narrativo metti lo spettatore davanti ad una finestra aperta sul mondo […]. Questo è un film sul tempo, giocato su un equilibrio tra reale e simbolico. […] Parla di saperi, di condivisione e circolazione delle conoscenze’»

Maneggiare con cura. Al Milano Design Film Festival, il film-documentario di Francesco Clerici racconta il processo di restauro di uno dei primi acceleratori di particelle della storia – a cura della redazione
«Handle with care di Francesco Clerici è un film-documentario che […] segue, passo a passo, il restauro di un acceleratore di particelle del 1950 al Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia di Milano. Come descritto nella sinossi […] è un rito collettivo: restauratori, curatori, antichi utilizzatori della macchina lavorano per trasformare una ‘cosa’, tratta dalla quotidianità di un laboratorio, in un ‘oggetto’ da museo, custode di diverse storie»

From sito dell’IIFF, hosted by the National Intangible Heritage Center of South Korea: “The International Competition section was established for the first time this year in an effort to search out hidden gems dealing with intangible heritage. A total of 1,048 films were entered into the competition, of which 9 films from 10 countries were selected for the finals.” Handle with Care is one of them.


Press Kit

handle with care


Francesco Clerici
ff.clerici@gmail.com | t. +39 3496535031

Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Press Office
stampa@museoscienza.it | t. +39 02 48555 450/343 | m. +39 339 1536030 / 338 1573807


Aurelio Ascoli
Maria Baruffetti
Giulia Basilissi
Marianna Cappellina
Claudio Giorgione
Vincenzo Iannone
Marco Iezzi
Antonio e Daniele Menegaldo
Claudia Porta
Luca Reduzzi
Tommaso Rossini

Direction, filming, editing, photography
Francesco Clerici

Simona Casonato
Francesco Clerici

Gaby Ramsperger
Jon Barrenechea
Francesco Clerici

Executive producers
Jon Barrenechea
Francesco Clerici

Sound Editing
Michele Brambilla
Mattia Pontremoli
Emanuele Pullini

Sound mixing, sound editing supervision
Massimo Mariani
Tommaso Barbaro

Additional research
Simona Casonato
Leonardo Gariboldi
Luca Reduzzi

Production coordinators
Grazia Cavanna
Martina De Santis
Kilgore Trout

Color correction, postproduction supervision
Andrea Paganini

Poster Design

Original soundtrack
Claudio Gotti

Simona Casonato

With the support of
Istituto Luce Cinecittà, Roma
Archivio Nazionale Cinema Impresa, Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, Ivrea (TO)
With the collaboration of
Associazione CISE2007, Milano
Fondazione ISEC, Istituto per la Storia dell’Età Contemporanea, Sesto S. Giovanni (MI)
CERN European Laboratory for Particle Physics

Archival material
Istituto Luce, Archivio Storico
United World films for the Arthur Rank Organization Ltd
Archivio Nazionale Cinema d’Impresa

Additional shots
Francesco Zucchetti

Archival photos
Archivio Storico Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnica Leonardo da Vinci, Milano
Archivio CISE /Fondazione ISEC, Istituto per la Storia dell’Età Contemporanea, Sesto S. Giovanni (MI)