This is the museum that has created the biggest buzz in Bologna in recent years. Its home, the massive 14th-century Palazzo Pepoli Vecchio (or Antico) in the shadow of the Two Towers was built by Bologna's earliest bosses. Until 1723, it was improved: a scenographic stair, stuccoes, paintings, frescoes and statues were added to the medieval fabric.
In 2003, the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Bologna purchased the palazzo and held an international competition for its conversion into a museum, won by architects Mario Bellini and Italo Lupi. They restored the palace's original features and converted the courtyard into a striking steel and glass tower, described by Bellini as 'a tower-umbrella' or
a magic lantern flooded with white sunlight which gradually descends and dematerializes into pure transparency. It is practically a moment of revelation which leads one to ponder on the passing of time.
Exhibits in the museum vividly surveys the city's history, starting in the entrance, with its 1:1 scale reproduction of the great Map of Bologna of 1575 (the original is in the Apostolic Palace, Vatican City), said to be largest fresco map of a city ever executed. From there displays tell the history of Bologna from its beginnings as Etruscan Felsina (complete with a 3-D film) to its growth along the Via Emilia, its medieval forest of towers, the advent of Napoleon, and a virtual-reality walk through the city's mostly hidden canals that helped to make it a medieval industrial powerhouse.
Allow a couple of hours; at the end there's the de rigueur café and shop.
Via Castiglione 8
Hours Tues-Sun 10am-7pm
Adm (including a free audio guide in English) €10, €8 for over 70s, and ages 19-16; €6 ages 6-18; under 6 free.
+39 051 1993 6370
Images by: Genus Bononiae