As a city with an important history of art, it’s only natural that the culture of Bologna would reflect in an abundance of museums and exhibitions available to all who seek to discover the past of this incredible cultural center. The choice of places to visit in this regard is wide, offering artworks and masterpieces of all ages and origins to satisfy even the most avid art-lovers.
Stroll through the city and you’re sure to find these museums, and many others, on your path: it’ll be an exciting and mesmerizing journey through the centuries, seeing works from artists who made the history of art in Bologna, and Italy.
Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna
The Pinacoteca is just a couple minutes away from le Due Torri (the Two Towers, symbol of Bologna) and consists of 30 halls for permanent exhibitions, and other areas that host temporary exhibitions, workshops and conferences. The exposition is divided by historical period, and the journey through art in the Pinacoteca goes from XIII and XIV century artists to Renaissance masters such as Rafael and Tintoretto, and again to the artists of the current of Mannerism like the Vasari, and Baroque one such as the Carracci, the Guercino, and more. Lastly, you’ll get the chance to see large scale 1600’s paintings.
Museo Civico Archeologico
Near the Basilica of San Petronio, at the heart of the city, you’ll find the Archeological City Museum. The Museum hosts many collections from different historical periods: sections about the Kingdom of Egypt and the Ptolemaic Dynasty, the Prehistorical Section and the Bronze Age are also exhibited, and an important exhibition of over 4000 pieces from the Etruscan collection are hosted. For the lovers of Ancient Rome, the Museum can offer great and relevant pieces from the 1st and 2nd centuries b.C. along with the most important Numismatic collection in Italy with over 100 thousand samples of Greek, Roman and Byzantine coins.
Museo Civico Medievale
The building that houses the Museum is a masterpiece in and on itself, being a perfect example of Bolognese architecture and a former noble residence dating back to the 15th century. The most important part of the museum is dedicated to the Middle Ages, of particular relevance are the Early Middle Ages artifacts and the gold-plated copper statue of Boniface VIII built in 1301. A museum such as this one couldn’t avoid a reference to the roots of the history of Bologna itself, and for this reason it also hosts many funeral sculptures of teachers from the renowned University of Bologna. The Museum also displays the development and growth of Renaissance art thanks to other important artworks from the 15th and 16th century. For those of you who have a passion for the Middle Ages, a collection of armors (particularly interesting is the jousting armor exposition) and of manuscripts with 13th-16th century Bolognese masterpieces are sure to enchant you.
Collezioni Comunali d’Arte
The Municipal Art Collection represent the closing stage of the reorganization of the municipal museums: the original collection, the core of artworks belonging to the previous town government has been added to with art pieces from local collectors, together with the properties from dismantles religious orders and donations from wealthy families and citizens through the centuries. Founded in 1936, the collections are hosted in rooms still important historically and artistically to this day, and the exhibitions is displayed in an unique way: not necessarily chronologically but more like a “furnished museum” where canvasses, furniture and furnishings mark the sequence of historical rooms opening into one another. The Vidonian Hall recalls the Baroque gallery arrangement with interspersed paintings and sculptures; in the Rusconi rooms, the arrangement of furnishings evokes images of 18th century mansions for a one-of-a-kind, immersive experience.
In the museum is also the most important example of Bolognese Baroque, in the form of the Sala Urbana or “Coats of Arms’ Hall”, a room designed to display Michele Colonna’s ceiling decorations, a true statement of Baroque art.
Mambo – Bologna’s Museum of Modern Art
The MAMbo goes in a completely different direction, hosting Modern Art in the form of a visual experience. The Permanent Exhibition traces the history of Italian art from WWII to the present day. The permanent collection is organized in nine thematic areas that represent some of the most innovative aspects of art from the second half of the twentieth century to the present day. The aim of the museum is to let people of all age groups get into contact with innovative forms of art and artworks, and start a dialogue based on the themes of the works hosted here.
The Museum also includes and hosts other exhibitions, such as the Museo Morandi, temporarily housed here. 85 works from Giorgio Morandi can be seen at the MAMbo in an itinerary through the years and personal history of the artist.