The Horcynus Orca Park – Messina

Horcynus Orca Park (PHO), named after Stefano d’Arrigo’s famous novel, was born out of a long and complex process of urban regeneration of a degraded area of great historical, architectural and environmental value, illegally occupied for decades by organised crime.

The area of the Strait of Messina is a cusp area where cultures, anthropologies over the centuries have met and mingled with a varied nature rich in biodiversity and geo-dynamics. The symbolic and evocative power of this area is evident. A few kilometres are a natural laboratory of the entire Mediterranean and at the same time one of the most important nodes of classical mythological cultures. It is no coincidence that the Strait of Messina area is the centre of gravity of a very important system of protected areas, nature reserves and nature parks: the Nebrodi, Aspromonte, Etna, the Aeolian Islands, Isola Bella, the Ganzirri and Marinello lagoons, etc.

Scientific and humanistic knowledge are here strongly interdependent and their boundary in history cannot be rigidly delineated. In some respects, the Strait of Messina is a padigma of complexity, strongly characterised by the plurality of cognitive approaches. The variety and richness of the microclimates, environmental systems and life-worlds that live here are interdependently interwoven with the lives of the communities that have inhabited these spaces for millennia, and with their ability to construct models of representation, poetics, signs.

Active since 2002, today it is:

  • centre on marine, environmental and cultural sciences and technologies. The main research and transferability actions currently concern renewable energies (from sea currents, from the sun, through third-generation prototype technologies) and energy efficiency; the development of solidarity energy communities; scenographic-immersive prototypes for the enhancement of cultural heritage;
  • hub of Mediterranean cultures. Permanent research and ‘encounters’ have resulted in the layering of an important contemporary art collection that has given rise to MACHO (Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Horcynus Orca);
  • pole of scientific dissemination and cultural and educational tourism, connecting research and territory.

The Park is an interdisciplinary environment; composite and multiple are the activities that animate it:

  • Creative workshops related to the millenary traditions of the Straits;
  • Environmental and landscape education courses conducted with RMA methodologies;
  • Educational tour with families;
  • Real and virtual excursions to discover the Strait’s biodiversity;
  • Audio-visual, photography and performing arts workshop;
  • Artistic residencies;
  • Workshops and research on ‘chaotic’ physical phenomena and marine energies;
  • Specialised schools on civic engagement cinema on the conservation and restoration of contemporary works of art;
  • Unique collections of abyssal fish;
  • Conventions, conferences;
  • The international and annual Horcynus Festival.

One of the most important cultural attractions is the Macho Museum (Museo delle Arti Contemporanee del Mediterraneo Horcynus Orca), curated by Martina Corgnati. The museum is the result of a research project on the visual arts in Mediterranean cultural and geo-political contexts and evolves together with the Horcynus Orca Foundation.

Local experiences of The Parks of Beauty and Science


Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or EISMEA. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

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