Museums and galleries

Museums Palace: Estense University Library and permanent exhibition of illuminated codices

Largo Porta S.Agostino 337 c/o Palazzo dei Musei - Modena - MO - 41121

Phone: +39(0)59/4395711

Fax: +39(0)59/230196



For timetable of the Estense University Library, please visit:

The Dynasty Library, created by the lords of Ferrara at the end of the 14th century, remains closely linked to the House of Este the dissolution of the duchy and the unification of Italy (1860). Transferred in 1882 to the current headquarters of Palazzo dei Musei as a national library, since 2016 it is part of the new Gallerie Estensi institute.

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 Lodovico Antonio Muratori and Girolamo Tiraboschi, who acquired the most important printed publications and the most valuable manuscripts on the European market.

In 1764, Francis d'Este 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 Estense University Library has a single exhibition room, the Sala Campori, which houses the permanent display of illuminated codices. 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, themed exhibitions have been also 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. .


The Estense University Library has the following rooms: Consultation room, Catalogue room, Reading room (previous Magazine room).

For timetables and how to visit the Library and to consult texts, please visit:

uided tours:

By contacting the Library at no. 059/4395711 or by sending an e-mail to you can request and book a free guided tour for groups and secondary school grades.