The International Museum of Ceramics in Faenza (Italian: Museo Internazionale delle Ceramiche Faenza MIC) is one of the most important museums of ceramic art in the world, and is located in Faenza. The MIC Foundation was founded in 1908 and represents one of the greatest Museums devoted to ceramics in the world. The MIC preserves about 60.000 ceramic works, 6.000 of them are exhibited in the wide exhibition area, about 10.000 squared metres. The collections show items from all over the world, many pieces belong to very ancient ages like the ceramics from Eastern culture and items from Pre-historical Age, there is an interesting Pre-Columbian collection, a Far East section and an impressive modern and contemporary collection containing pieces by Picasso, Matisse, Chagall, Leger, Fontana, Burri, Arman, Baj, Leoncillo, Leoni, Spagnulo, Zauli, Melotti, Cerone, and other great masters. The MIC – Foundation represents a center for ceramic culture, it contains a specialized library (more than 60.000 texts), a school department, a restoration deparment. The review “Faenza” is edited at the MIC and sent to several museums and institutions in the world.
It all originated with the International Faenza Exhibition of 1908 dedicated to the third centenary of the birth of Evangelist Torricelli. A whole neighborhood of the city was equipped for the prestigious event that saw the most famous artists in Faenza becoming the so-called Applied Arts. It was a success and Gaetano Ballardini, animator of the event and creator of the emerging Ceramic Museum, could pick up the fruits by beginning to place ceramic collections in the halls of the former convent of San Maglorio. He sensitized private collectors and public bodies by obtaining donations and institutional recognition from one another and others: among the characters who belonged to the museum’s founding committee, there was the forlivese Tito Pasqui.
Gaetano Ballardini did not want for his museum only the increase and the diversification of the Italian and foreign ceramic pottery; From the outset, he was concerned about establishing strong relationships with schools of technical and artistic training, guaranteeing them a valued background with which to implement artisan and industrial production. He was a promoter of national and international exhibitions, to the launch of Faenza’s specialized magazine. Son of that land that had lustered the art of ceramics, wanted to be witness to this secular vocation to convey it to future generations.
Thus the identity of the Museum was recognized in the Ceramic School, today the State Art Institute for Ceramics G. Ballardini, in the scientific recovery of ancient ceramic techniques and in the subsequent promotion and sale of ceramic products of the time. Unique in its kind, the Faentean museum gained ever greater prestige at the international level and already in 1926 included, in addition to the ancient collections, also a section devoted to the famous European ceramic factories and to the most qualified contemporary ceramists.
During the Second World War the Museum was heavily bombed; Particularly disastrous was the bombing of 13 May 1944, which caused very serious damage to the structures. Even then, Ballardini, despite the younger age, went to work, raising funds, raising awareness of the art world and institutions so that he could reopen the first exhibition halls back in 1949. It was then that love for the ceramics of great artists, such as Picasso, Leger, Matisse and Chagall, led them to donate important works to the museum.
In the post-war period, donations of entire private and large collections of donations were made in the collecting world, which perfectly complemented the already substantial heritage: Merenghi, Benini, Ugolini, Rusconi, to the more recent ones of Cora, Fanfani and Cantagalli. To date, the Museum boasts a corpus of over 40,000 ceramic artefacts.
The permanent exhibit of the MIC winds through two itineraries that separate the part dedicated to ancient ceramics, located in the restored spaces of the former conventual quadrilateral, from that of the twentieth century housed in the new buildings built at the end of the last century. With this choice, the museum wanted to highlight the fruitful relationship between the characters of the various styles and the “making ceramics” through the centuries to the present.
In the exhibition halls are collections of the works of Italian ceramic workshops from the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century; Ancient Near East; Mediterranean area in the Hellenistic period; Pre-Columbian and Islamic. A large section is devoted to modern and contemporary ceramics.
Since 1963, the Museum promotes, every two years, an international competition on ceramic art, which allowed him to expand his collection with works from around the world.
Since 2011, the museum boasts the recognition of “Monument witness to a culture of peace”, awarded by UNESCO.