Reggio Emilia City Museums, Italy

The Reggio Emilia City Museums (Italian: Musei Civici di Reggio Emilia), the oldest foundation of the collections, in fact, was created in 1799 with the acquisition, by the city of Reggio Emilia, of the domestic collection of the illustrious scientist Lazzaro Spallanzani who, in his home in Scandiano, had accumulated zoological, paleontological, mineralogical finds. , lithological and botanical, as well as furnishing objects, such as paintings, tables and knick-knacks. The collection, preserved intact in its eighteenth-century consistency, since 1830 is located in the halls of Palazzo dei Musei.

The art collections, the historical sites and the exhibition centres of Reggio Emilia City Museums have, for a long time, helped to develop the cultural identity of Reggio Emilia’s people. Natural, archaeological, artistic and historical finds from the entire Province and from the five continents, are exposed and promoted in the network of the Reggio Emilia City Museums. The collections date from the Palaeolithic period to the present day and are presented in five different Museums, two monumental sites and three exhibition centres.

The first nucleus of this heritage of buildings and works dates back to just over two hundred years ago, and has been built up more and more during the decades, with continuous updates.

In 1862, thanks to the work of the priest Gaetano Chierici, one of the fathers of modern Paletnology, the Gabinetto di Storia Patria was established, which in 1870 became the Museum of Homeland History. Precious evidence of science and museology of the late nineteenth century, the materials of prehistory and local protohistory are compared with objects of the same period, but of different geographical origin, especially Italian. The collection was later renamed Museo Gaetano Chierici di Paletnologia, based in the Palazzo dei Musei.

The exhibitions at the Palazzo dei Musei are then extended to the Galleria dei Marmi with stone findings, Roman epigraphs and sculptures from the Middle Ages to the XVIII; to the Museum Atrium with Roman mosaics and floor decorations from the 12th and 13th centuries. And again with Sale that complete the naturalistic collections of zoology and botany; then collections of ethnography, numismatics, ceramics, jewelery and minor arts.

In 1902 the Antonio Fontanesi Gallery was set up, which was re-organized, enlarged and enriched several times, and documented the artistic culture in Reggio from the 14th to the 20th century.
The historic site of the Civic Museums is now part of a network that also includes other places, and consists of five museums that include, in addition to the Palazzo dei Musei, the Parmeggiani Gallery, the Tricolore Museum, the History of Psychiatry Museum and the Temple Museum of the Blessed Virgin of the Ghiara. The network also includes two monumental sites (the Synagogue and the Mauritian), three exhibition venues (Spazio Gerra, Chiostri di San Domenico, Officina delle Arti) and the Biblioteca delle Arti.

The Civic Museums, pursuing over time the goal of preserving the testimonies of the city of Reggio Emilia and the provincial territory of Reggio Emilia, have simultaneously promoted scientific research, knowledge and public enjoyment through educational and educational activities. The commitment and role of dynamic promoters of cultural and educational services have been assumed – in the disciplinary areas that characterize the heritage – in collaboration with other local, public and private entities: Superintendencies, Universities, Local Authorities, Research Institutes, Associations cultural.

Palace of the Museums
The story of the Palace of the Museums (Museum’s Palace) began in 1256, when the Franciscans, by the author of Bishop William Fogliani, took up residence at the church of St. Luke and the adjacent imperial palace, which had been used as an Episcopal center since 1195.
In 1272, work began in the construction of a church dedicated to St. Francis. Rudolf of Habsburg, the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

The Civic Museums of Reggio have been housed in the Palazzo dei Musei since 1830. They contain collections and Collections referable to Archeology (Roman mosaics, Museo Chierici, Portico dei Marmi-Roman section, Roman Museum, Museum of Prehistory and Protohistory), Ethnography, History of Art (Galleria Fontanesi, Galleria dei Marmi-Medieval section, Mosaics medieval), Natural History (Spallanzani Collection, Zoological, anatomical, botanical, geo-mineralogical and paleontological collections), History of the city (Museum of Industrial Art, showcases of the Reggio Scientists).

Parmeggiani Gallery
The birth of the Parmeggiani Art Gallery is associated with the lives of two singular fin de siecle figures, the collector and art dealer Luigi Parmeggiani and the Asturian artist Ignacio Leon y Escosura. Born near Reggio Emilia in 1860 and introduced in anarchical circles since his youth, Parmeggiani was allegedly involved in the attempt on 1889. Fleeing from the Italian police who were after him, he found refuge in London where he met the Spaniard Escosura, the owner of a gallery of objets d’art and painter of historical scenes reconstructed in his atelier using costumes, objects and furniture.

The Parmeggiani Gallery is an interesting collectible episode that saw the collection in Reggio Emilia in 1925, inside a building erected specifically by Luigi Parmeggiani, three nineteenth-century collections: paintings, furniture and fabrics that belong to the collection of the painter, collector and antiquarian Ignacio Leon y Escosura, weapons and goldsmiths come from the Parisian workshop Marcy, while a room is dedicated to the pictorial production of Cesare Detti.

Tricolour Flag Museum
The Italian national flag was first adopted in Reggio Emilia on January 7, 1797. On that day, representatives of the cities of Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna and Ferrara proclaimed the red, white and green Tricolore to be the banner of the Cispadane Republic. The historic session took place in the Municipal Palace, specifically in a large hall built between 1772 and 1787, according to a design by Lodovico Bolognini, to host the general archive of the Estense Duchy. The hall was subsequently named Congress Hall and then Tricolore Hall, and is now the home of the City Council. The Museum of the Tricolore Flag opened in 2004 to document the historical and political context in which the flag was created.

The Museo del Tricolore in Reggio Emilia has a long history. The collection is started by Gaetano Chierici and then greatly enriched by Naborre Campanini. To launch the idea of the Museum is the historian Ugo Bellocchi who was responsible in 1966 for the reconstruction on a documentary basis of the model of the first Tricolore; Between 1985 and 1987 the museum found a first place in some rooms adjacent to the historic Tricolore Room in a setting funded by the Reggio Emilia Host Lions Club.

The Bicentennial celebrations of 1997 create the conditions for a relaunch and a new exhibition, inaugurated on 7 January 2004 by the President of the Republic, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi. The museum tour, curated by Maurizio Festanti, consists at the beginning of only one section dedicated to the period 1796 – 1814, the crucial years of the political events that led to the birth of the Italian flag in Reggio Emilia. A second section, inaugurated in 2006, continues the story of the history of the flag, from the revolts of 1820 – 21 to the definitive conquest of independence and unity that recognize the symbol of the new nation in the tricolor banner.

History of Psychiatry Museum
The collection of the History of Psychiatry Museum has a very long history. The museum was established in 1875 by the then director of San Lazzaro Psychiatric Hospital, Carlo Livi, in order to show – in a positivist light – the advances, discoveries and applications that were a source of pride for psychiatric science and its institution. The museum was expanded by subsequent directors who kept some of the obsolete treatment paraphernalia for its collection. Its founder wrote: “today all these old tools, used at a time when force prevailed over reason, have been brought out again, not in order to torment humanity, but to bear testimony to the fact that our present times are not only wiser than the olden times, but also kinder, more humane and more charitable.”

The Museum’s collection has an ancient history: it was established by the director Carlo Livi in 1875, to show the progress, the discoveries and the applications that formed a title of pride for psychiatric science and its institution and was enlarged by successive directors, who they kept some of the objects of care no longer in use.

After the exhibition Il rim del contagio (1980), at the Lombroso pavilion, the objects were kept at the Carlo Livi scientific library, before being exhibited here.

Museum of the Beata Vergine della Ghiara Sanctuary
The Basilica of the Madonna della Ghiara is one of the most important Marian temples in Italy and one of the finest and best-preserved examples of 17th century art in Emilia.
The origin of the Sanctuary is connected with the presence in Reggio Emilia of the Servants of Mary, who were called to the city by the community of Reggio Emilia in 1313.

In 1982, by the will of the Temple and Civic Museums, the Museum and Treasury of the Basilica della Ghiara was born. Set up in some rooms on the ground floor of the building that separates the two cloisters of the Servite convent the Museum, it welcomes liturgical objects and donations that over the centuries have come to the temple as a sign of devotion to the miraculous image of the Madonna. gave rise to the Treasury of the Basilica.

The museum is made up of three exhibition halls and a didactic room hosting the so-called “sinopia” of the fresco of the Madonna della Ghiara, painted by Giovanni Bianchi called il Bertone in 1573 on a design by Lelio Orsi. Among the objects of particular importance, in the first room there are the so-called “ducal candlesticks”, offered by the duke of Modena Francesco I d’Este: destined to decorate the altar of the Madonna during the holidays, they were made in Rome by the goldsmiths Gianfrancesco Frangi and Marco Marchi between 1631 and 1634. In the second room are kept vases and other liturgical furnishings. In the third room there is the “crown of 1674”, a splendid work of jewelery donated by the Community of Reggio to the Madonna for having preserved the city from the plague.

The exhibition path is completed by the “Treasure Room”, which houses reliquaries, ex-votos, sacred vessels and other furnishings.

The sixteenth-century triumphal arch in terracotta with a single archway, which meets at San Maurizio on the Via Emilia, leads to the monumental complex of Mauritian. According to tradition, the arch was erected by Orazio Malaguzzi, who died in 1583 and who is responsible for the restoration and enrichment of the entire complex. An avenue of more than 250 meters, flanked by poplars, leads to the Palazzo del Mauriziano.

Despite significant renovations of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the new Palazzo del Mauriziano (formerly known as “Ariosto’s Casino”) maintains the 16th century volumetric layout that connects it to the culture of the Renaissance villa. In fact, it is characterized by a quadrangular base plant with a central passing hall on which the axis of symmetry of the building is based, around which the lateral rooms are built.

To the east a raised floor still preserves three rooms with vaulted ceilings and with hanging capitals, according to stylistic modules of Ferrarese matrix, experimented in the city between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.