Here’s an entire day dedicated to art and culture that takes you on a voyage among illuminated manuscripts, paintings, priceless documents, sculpture, and the most unforgettable objects of artistic beauty that Modena has to offer.
The city’s roots are here, and if you’d like to get to know them better, this excursion is perfect for you!
More than an excursion, this is an in-depth visit to one of the sites that most clearly symbolizes the history and culture of the city: the Palazzo dei Musei. Today, a large number of civic and cultural institutions are housed here, including the Historical Archives, the Luigi Poletti Library of Art, the Modena Civic Museum, and the Estense Library and Gallery.
Discover the Museums Palace
First stop: Ground Floor. The Roman Lapidary Museum, the Estense Lapidary Museum, and the Giuseppe Graziosi Plaster Cast Museum
From the grand door that opens onto Via Emilia, visitors enter the grand atrium where they are immediately surrounded by the ancient ambiances of the Roman Lapidary Museum. The museum exhibits beautiful funerary monuments recovered from the necropolises of the city of Mutina (the Roman-era name for Modena), including the imposing Ara di Vetilia Egloge, an altar erected by the Roman freedwoman whose name it bears.
Here, you can admire other Roman-era archeological discoveries and sarcophagi in the Estense Lapidary Museum. Spend a few moments walking among the imposing stone coffins and the white tombstones, silent witnesses of a distant and memorable era.
The Giuseppe Graziosi Plaster Cast Museum is to one side of the portico and displays terracotta models, original plaster casts, and copies, drawings, etchings, aquatints, and lithographs by the great Modena-based artist Giuseppe Graziosi (1879-1942).
Second stop: First Floor. The Municipal Historical Archive, the Estense University Library, and the Poletti Library
After a break, ascend the large, elegant staircase that leads to the upper floors. Stop on the next landing to visit the Estense University Library, opened to the public in 1764. Today, the library conserves incunabula and illuminated manuscripts, including a Bible that famously belonged to Duke Borso d’Este.
The next stop is the Poletti Library, which specializes in architecture and the arts and houses a rich collection of books, prints, drawings, and photographs. From there, continue to the Municipal Historical Archive, a place of undisputed charm and an indispensable destination for anyone who wants to get closer to history and the culture of Modena and the surrounding area.
Time will pass so quickly among the Archive’s old books and ancient artifacts that you may not realize lunch time has come. You can sample delicacies of local cuisine in in one of the many traditional restaurants in the old-town center, which also offers a wide range of alternatives for all tastes.
Third stop: Second Floor. Modena Civic Museum
Once you’ve had a bite and a rest, resume your visit by going directly to the third floor where the Modena Civic Museum are.
Fourth stop: Third Floor. Estense Gallery
As you climb further, a last special visit awaits you on the fourth floor: the Estense Gallery, one of the oldest and most important galleries in Italy. The impressive works on display there include a Pietà by Cima da Conegliano, a Madonna and Child by Correggio, a Portrait of Francesco I d’Este by Velázquez, a Triptych by El Greco, a marble bust of Francesco I d’Este by Bernini, and a crucifix by Guido Reni.
Before you leave, check to see which temporary exhibitions are being hosted at the Palazzo. You’ll likely find some interesting displays or other projects that are too good to miss.
The excursion to the Palazzo dei Musei ends here: a day immersed in the beauty of an artistic and cultural heritage that deserves no less than an in-depth visit. If the visual arts are your passion, get in touch with us about other excursions in the city. We’ll be glad to share advice and tips.