In Parma, the Pilotta Palace regains its luster

Parma (Italy). The monumental complex of Pilotta in Parma has regained all its splendor. The conclusion is unanimous at the end of a major project which lasted six years, for a total cost of 22.4 million euros. “It is part of the most virtuous management possible”, claims the director of the museum, Simone Verde, in office since 2017 and whose mandate is coming to an end. “ The promotion of heritage supports its preservation in accordance with the programmatic indications established by the Ministry of Culture. » He will hand over to his soon-to-be-appointed successor the keys to a sumptuously modernized Pilotta after decades of neglect. However, it was one of the most prestigious museums not only on the Peninsula but also in Europe, and inspired the birth of modern museums.

The Pilotta monumental complex brings together three institutions: a National Gallery of Fine Arts, an archaeological museum and the Palatine Library, which has around a million books. It contains the Farnese Theater (the first modern theater in Europe, which served as a model for Italian theaters) built in 1618. In the 1960s, the Bodoni Museum was opened to exhibit the collections of the famous typographer, who had his workshop within the Pilotta. But its story begins four centuries earlier, around 1580, when the powerful Farnese family wanted a setting worthy of their collections. The Vatican Museums and the Uffizi Gallery in Florence will serve as examples.

Towards energy sobriety

In the wake of the Franceschini reform granting, in 2014, greater autonomy to the most important Italian cultural institutions, Simone Verde arrives at the head of the Pilotta. This Romain, a graduate of the École du Louvre and doctoral student in anthropology of cultural goods at the EHESS (School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences) in Paris, also worked at the Louvre Abu Dhabi. He immediately embarked on a vast project to renovate and modernize the buildings, then in an advanced state of disrepair. He is carrying out a redevelopment of the rooms and major restorations of the works in the service of a historical reconstruction of the collections. These range from archeology to modern art, with a very rich cabinet of drawings and prints, but above all masterpieces by Parmigianino, Correggio, Antonio Canova, Leonardo da Vinci, José de Ribera, Antoon Van Dyck and Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun.

The Palazzo della Pilotta in Parma.

© Giovanni Hanninen

“The situation appeared extremely problematic, remembers Simone Verde, and I had to act quickly with targeted projects. They were financed thanks to ticket sales, but also with 2 million euros from the “Parma, Italian capital of culture” initiative. Private sponsorship is not negligible, especially in a country like Italy, with 1.5 million euros raised from foundations, large companies, but also from many individuals whose generosity has made it possible to restore all its greatness at the Pilotta. »

Nearly 30,000 square meters have been redeveloped within the museum, around fifteen rooms have been inaugurated and the exhibition area has been increased by 30%. All under the sign of strict attention paid to energy saving. The museum’s heating and cooling systems were overhauled, filters were installed on the windows, halogen light sources were replaced with LEDs and roof insulation was improved. Added to this is the digitization of the entire catalog of paintings and the restoration of 62 works, 102 frames, 185 manuscripts and books from the Palatine library, but also 550 archaeological remains.

The use of global history

“The problem is that in Italy museums were originally conceived as warehouses of the superintendences of cultural goods, where the public came to bow before the scientific activity of the state bureaucracy, explains Simone Verde. Museums are the place where the results of research are returned to the public. But we must not neglect its social value, which passes through the exhibition routes whose significance is anything but incidental. » To address as many people as possible, Simone Verde advocates the use of global history or even anthropology, which have taken an increasing place in art history research in recent years. He wants to get rid of a vision inherited from the 18th and 19th centuries to focus on the eyes of an increasingly international public.

The number of visitors to the Pilotta has continued to grow since 2017, going from around 120,000 to more than 170,000 this year, increasing ticket revenue accordingly. Enough to arouse praise from the Minister of Culture, Gennaro Sangiuliano, during the inauguration of the new Pilotta: “If proof were needed of the need for museum autonomy, this is undoubtedly one of the clearest and most luminous. »

Similar Posts