Fervent and passionate advocate for the spread of scientific enlightenment, Guido Ucelli is an example of the integration between scientific and entrepreneurial skills put to the use of science and technology.
Thanks to his intellectual and technical contribution, as well as his financial support, two Roman ships were recovered from the bottom of Lake Nemi between 1928 and 1939. The two craft, exceptional in terms of size, technological importance, and archeological interest, would later be destroyed during the II WW.
With Cesare Beltrami, a designer who graduated from the Politecnico di Milano, in 1922 he produced the San Giusto, a small car with decidedly innovative technological features: four-wheel independent suspension, hollow central backbone chassis, and air-cooled rear-mounted 750 cc engine. Eleven of these were produced, ending in 1925.
Promoter and founder of the Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia (originally ‘Tecnica’) inaugurated in 1953, Ucelli served attentively as its president until his death in 1964. He monitored every aspect, from the definition of objectives to the identification and restoration of the headquarters, from the organization of interior spaces to the gathering of the collections, from the outfitting of the displays to the didactic apparatus.
The building that today houses the Museum was formerly the olivetan Monastery of San Vittore, and later the Villata barracks. After the war-induced destructions, it was selected in 1947 for the headquarters for the Museum upon the initiative of a group of engineers and architects of the Politecnico di Milano: Guido Ucelli, Francesco Mauro, Enrico Agostino Griffini, Piero Portaluppi, and Ferdinando Reggiori. it was inaugurated in 1953 with a major exhibition on Leonardo da Vinci. Guido Ucelli, who had long urged the scientific and political world to constitute an industrial museum, attentively followed the restoration works to the site and would chair the Museum with dedication for many years.
Under the direction of Guido Ucelli, the Riva company grew from the industrial, technical, and commercial points of view. The significant technological development and the major increase in markets made the company a worldwide example of excellence. in 1922 the Pelton turbines destined for the Moncenisio-Venaus plant were constructed. After the 12,000-hp Peltons for the Grosotto plant, these turbines constituted an important technical conquest, because they exploited an exceptional fall of water, of more than 1000 m, reaching a power of 26,000 hp.
The undertaking to recover the Nemi ships, longed for since the Renaissance and returned into vogue in the late 19th century, saw the personal commitment of Guido Ucelli. he provided the hydraulic machinery utilized to empty Lake Nemi, and he provided careful technical monitoring with sensitivity to the archaeological value. The emptying of the lake and the coordination of the teams employed would even today be two complex undertakings. one can only imagine what it must have been like in the 1920s. The ships brought to light were archaeological finds internationally recognized for their importance. They were burned during the war, and the only things remaining today are the reconstructions visible at the Museo delle Navi Romane in Nemi and part of the bronze decorations at the Museo Nazionale Romano at Palazzo Massimo.