Museums, galleries and archives

Fondazione Fotografia Modena

MATA - Ex Manifattura Tabacchi: Via della Manifattura dei Tabacchi, 83 - Modena - MO

Phone: +39-(0)59/4270657


The Fondazione Fotografia Modena is a contemporary art centre and a school of higher education dedicated to photography and images that offers activities ranging from temporary exhibitions to specialization courses. Established in 2012 as a public service by the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena, since October 2017 the Fondazione Fotografia Modena – along with the Galleria Civica of Modena and the Museo della Figurina – has been part of the FONDAZIONE MODENA ARTI VISIVE.


The Foundation plays an important role on the national and international cultural scene, thanks to its role in the preservation and enhancement of a large collection of significant contemporary photography, as well as its scientific expertise in the cataloguing, conservation, and restoration of photographs. The Foundation’s collection covers traditional photography genres as well as new and experimental artistic practices. It has a vast public and engages its diverse audience in exploring the multiple languages of images, and invites its visitors to follow their development reflecting the changes in the society that created them. Some noteworthy exhibitions include those dedicated to Sharon Lockhart (2018), Santu Mofokeng (2016), Tom Sandberg and Hiroshi Sugimoto (2015), Axel Hütte, Mimmo Jodice (2014), Walter Chappell (2013), Edward Weston (2012), Walter Niedermayr and Ansel Adams (2011), Daido Moriyama (2010). Group shows include Three True Stories – Zanele Muholi, Ahlam Shibli, Mitra Tabrizian (2013); Flags of America. I grandi autori americani dagli anni ’40 agli anni ’70 (2012); The Collector’s Choice. Opere dalla collezione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo (2012).


From September 2017 the Foundation’s exhibitions have been held at MATA, located in the former Tobacco Factory of Modena. Built in 1513 as a monastery and later transformed into a hospital and a salt warehouse, it then was turned into a tobacco factory, which was active until 2002. It was subsequently restored from January 2011 and finally handed over to the City in 2015.


The Foundation manages the contemporary photography collection of the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena that includes photographs and multimedia works by over 122 Italian and foreign artists. Begun in 2007, it today contains over a thousand works documenting the results of artistic research in the field of images, with a focus on work carried out since the 1990s. Among the most important works are those by internationally acclaimed artists such as Yto Barrada, David Goldblatt, Amar Kanwar, Tom Sandberg, Wael Shawky, Dayanita Singh, Mladen Stilinović, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Wolfgang Tillmans, Akram Zaatari, Artur Żmijewski, and Gillian Wearing. At the core of the collection are photographs taken by twentieth-century American masters, such as Ansel Adams, Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Irwin Penn, Stephen Shore, Edward Weston, and Garry Winogrand. The Italian section covers prominent photographers from the 1970s to today, including Olivo Barbieri, Gabriele Basilico, Luigi Ghirri, Franco Fontana, Mimmo Jodice, Walter Niedermayr, and Franco Vaccari, plus the work of numerous more recent artists.

In addition to the contemporary photography collection, the Foundation boasts a very rich heritage of period photos that constitute an important resource for study: five collections of photographs belonging to the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena, dating from 1863 to the 1950s, including over 114,000 pictures taken by photographers from Modena, plus an important archive on the Venice Art Biennale, from 1948 to 1986, with over 10,000 negatives. Moreover, thanks to its conservation and preservation of period photographs inherited from the former Fotomuseo Panini (active in Modena from 1997 to 2012), the Foundation possesses over 1,500,000 photographs documenting this art form in and around Modena.


Visual education is a key objective of all the critical, theoretical, and learning activities that accompany an exhibition. Learning workshops for schools, families, and adults, guided tours and encounters with artists are some of the services the Fondazione Fotografia Modena provides, often in collaboration with cultural partners.

The Foundation also provides higher learning courses (a Masters in Contemporary Images and ICONCourse for Curators of Contemporary Images) and specialized workshops aimed each year at students interested in the field of photography and images, including cutting-edge contemporary artistic languages.