In 1985, through the testamentary bequest of Alessandra Salvaneschi Rognoni, the municipality of Novara acquired the collections of several generations of family collectors, along with the building that had always housed them.

It is a residence created through the amalgamation of properties received in successive hereditary bequests made to Francesco Rognoni (1817-1900). His son Ernesto (1850-1919), initiator of the collections, was succeeded by his nephew Franz (1896-1969), who in the 1950s restored the oldest building, a tower house with a large window with a Lombard terracotta border. The restoration and recovery of the fifteenth-century appearance was accompanied by a desire to recreate the interior furnishings of a noble house from the late 19th century.

Exhibition halls were set up on the ground floor of the building on Via Canobio 12 to allow a rotating presentation of the various thematic groups of collections.

Numerous and varied materials are represented: lace, 19th-century embroidery, clothing, ceramics, weapons, professional and tradesmen’s tools, household working tools and an important collection of vintage toys.