Art and culture

Museums Palace: Estense library and permanent exhibition of illuminated codices

piazza S. Agostino, 337 - c/o Palazzo dei Musei - Modena - MO - 41121

Phone: +39(0)59/4395711

Fax: +39(0)59/230196



Closed on Sunday and public holidays Exhibition room: Monday, Friday, Saturday 9.00 am - 1.30 pm Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 9.00 am - 1.30 pm, 2,30 pm - 6.30 pm It's necessary to book the guided tours before 059.222248 -



The library is open: Monday to Thursday 8.30 am – 7.00 pm Fridays 8.30 am – 3.30 pm Saturdays 8.30 am – 1.30 pm Closed on Sundays and holidays. The exhibition can be visited on Monday to Saturday mornings 9.00 am – 1.30 pm, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons 2.30 – 6.00 pm thanks to Touring Club Italiano volunteers.

The Estense University Library has a single exhibition room, the Sala Campori, which previously housed the permanent display of illuminated codices. Over recent years, both to meet the many interests expressed by those frequenting the institute and in order to enhance this large part of the bibliographic heritage owned by the Estense University Library that would otherwise remain unknown, themed exhibitions have been organised in the Sala Campori.
Some codices of particular interest from a historic-bibliographic point of view are normally on show: the Bible of Borso d’Este, the two finest geographical maps preserved in the institute, the Carta Catalana and the Carta del Cantino, the De Sphaera and the Carta Castiglioni. There is also the Breviary of Hercules I of Este and the Missal of Anna Sforza.


Guided visits cannot be made at the moment to these exhibitions as they are housed in the rooms on the first floor, currently inaccessible.



Monday to Thursday 8.30 am – 7.15 pm Fridays 8.30 am – 3.45 pm Saturdays 8.30 am – 1.45 pm Closed on Sundays and holidays. Open to the public from 29 July to 31 August 2013 for Loans, Consultation, Photocopies, Library information: Monday – Saturday: 8.30 am - 1.30 pm

On Tuesday 9 September, the Estense Library will resume normal opening hours. Now that work following the earthquake to repair and refurbish the rooms of the Estense Gallery on the upper floor of the Palazzo dei Musei is completed, the rooms in the library have also been declared ready for use once again.

After the earthquake in May 2012, even without any direct damage being suffered, for safety reasons most of the library was declared inaccessible and the offices were moved to the reading room on the ground floor. The public oratory room was set up for consultancy and, given the limited space, books could only be consulted on request. From September, all the rooms in the library will be open as normal, following some minor maintenance work, extraordinary cleaning and reorganisation.

“Work carried out in the Palazzo dei Musei”, says Modena Municipal councillor for Public Works, Gabriele Giacobazzi, “was some of the most important by the city following the earthquake, thanks to the direct contribution of the Regional Committee for Cultural Heritage. Various listed buildings like municipal churches and the Pavarotti Theatre also had work done to them. Refurbishment of “Palazzo dei Musei”, he adds, “will then allow opening of the Estense Gallery in the early months of 2015”.

The director of the Estense University Library, Luca Bellingeri, welcomes completion of the work with satisfaction, “From 9 September, the library will finally be back in its own rooms and fully functional, after more than two years during which time it has however guaranteed a service, albeit precarious and partial due to the limited space". The library collection of the House of Este started at the same time as the princely family and has always followed its vicissitudes. Made up of a remarkable number of miniatures and works of literary, historic and artistic interest since the period of the Marquis Niccolò III, it was then embellished by the Italian Renaissance splendour of Leonello, Borso, Hercules and Alfonso, who added a large number of manuscripts and fine printed editions.
Over the following centuries, the prestigious role of librarian was held by the great scholars Ludovico Antonio Muratori and Girolamo Tiraboschi, who acquired the most important printed publications and the most valuable manuscripts on the European market.
In 1764, Francis III opened the library to the public. After the unification of Italy, it was merged with the University Library to form what is today the Estense University Library.
The most valuable materials preserved in the library include the Monumenta of Estense miniatures, the Bible of Borso, the Genealogy of the Princes of Este, the Missal of Borso, the Breviary of Hercules, the Obizzi collection of Catajo, the maps of the Muratori and Tiraboschi.

The library has the following rooms:
consultation room, catalogue room, manuscript room, magazine room and multimedia room.
Requests to consult manuscripts must be made before 1.00 pm.
The multi-media room has IT stations for Internet access for bibliographic searches and for consulting CDs: open on Mondays 4.00 - 7.00 pm, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays 10.00 am – 1.00 pm. The library also allows items to be borrowed. Photocopies, prints and reproductions can also be made.

Free guided visits can be made by high school groups and classes and must be booked one week in advance.
The institute reserves the right to accept or refuse bookings.