MUSEUMS AND CULTURE
Since ancient times, every known civilization has felt the overwhelming need to collect and protect that which remained of the past. Over the centuries, royal lineages and entire noble classes have been the proprietors of impressive wealth, priceless art collections, which they jealously guarded inside castles, palaces, and fortresses.
Only at the end of the eighteenth century in France did a process of receptivity towards the general public begin, without restrictions linked to the social class to which they belonged. This change in attitudes was followed by the birth of exhibition spaces for free use. The first example, also in French territory, was the Louvre, still today one of the most famous museums in the world with the greatest number of visitors, where the royal art collections of the crown of France passed to the nation. A real revolution for what we now recognize as the world of “cultural heritage”, no longer exclusively at the disposition of only a small group of rich nobles and bourgeois more or less educated, but freely available to be viewed and appreciated by the entire population.
In Italy, the first step was the abolition of religious orders and the birth of the Academies of Fine Arts: sacred vestments and works of art were redistributed among the churches and conserved for educational purposes. Later there was the return of the artistic wealth requisitioned by the French to its homeland. Particular attention was paid, especially in the criterion used for redistribution, to the link between the work of art and the community of origin. Hence, the birth of the Civic Museums, to protect and restore the artwork to its place of origin for its historical and cultural value.
Today in Italy there are over 500 museums, monuments, and state archaeological sites, where the value of what is present is inestimable not only for the intrinsic quality of the works of art, but above all for the cultural impact and educational merit.
The statute of the International Council of Museums defines it as “a permanent, non-profit institution at the service of society and its development, open to the public, which carries out research concerning the material and intangible testimonies of humanity and its environment, acquiring, preserving, communicating and, above all, exhibiting such testimonies for the purposes of study, education and pleasure».
For those who choose Altarocca for their stay, whether it is the Wine Resort of Orvieto or the Embassy Rome apartments, they will have the opportunity to visit sites that reflect the rich history of Italy. Rome is undoubtedly the cradle of our culture and contains history, art, and traditions in a highly diversified system of museums and archaeological sites, enriched daily with temporary exhibitions and events. Orvieto is a city where you can breathe in history and culture simply by walking through the streets of the historic center, and for those who want to increase their knowledge of the town, the museum proposal offers exciting discoveries and is in constant evolution.
The main museums of Orvieto are located in Piazza Duomo: inside Palazzo Faina, we find the Civic Museum of the same name, rich in artifacts of Etruscan, Roman and Greek origin. The Archaeological Museum is also in the same building and is home to the “Venus” of Cannicella and a warrior’s headstone from the Necropolis of Crocifisso del Tufo, which stand out among the most precious finds. From the gallery located on the second floor it is also possible to enjoy a privileged view of the famous front of the Cathedral of Orvieto!
In the immediate vicinity, in the complex of the Papal Palaces and Palazzo Soliano, we find the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, which houses all the documentation relating to the different phases of construction and design of the cathedral, heaven for architects! Located on the lower floor of Palazzo Soliano is the Emilio Greco Museum of Modern Art, also part of the same museum system. The name is in honor of the Sicilian sculptor who created the three large bronze portals of the Duomo, which replaced the previous wooden doors.
Finally, a “widespread” museum that also acts as a multimedia tourist orientation center, is the Orvieto Vie Museum, located in Piazza del Popolo, inside Palazzo Simoncelli. The experience is divided into three themes related to the city of Orvieto: history, architecture and food and wine are represented in “La Città di Sopra” (The City Above), while terrestrial and underground itineraries, archaeological itineraries and caves are instead described in “La Città di Sotto” (The City Below). In the last room there is a large screen that summarizes “the best of Orvieto” through the language of images and multimedia narration.
The French writer Malraux said that “the museum is one of the places that gives the highest idea of man”. This is what museums are, places of personal elevation, growth that humanity has always craved, which remains the highest aspiration of every historical era, because without culture and knowledge man cannot grow or evolve. Preserving and protecting culture and knowledge are therefore the cause and purpose of the existence of museums.