Rimini emerging as a new hub for culture: medieval palaces revived for a dialogue between the contemporary and the ancient
In September 2020, the City of Rimini in collaboration with Fondazione San Patrignano inaugurated Palazzi dell’Arte, or PART — a new contemporary art museum in the Emilia Romagna region. The exhibition spaces are situated within two of the older buildings in the historical center of Rimini, Palazzo dell’Arengo, built in the thirteenth century and Palazzo del Podestà, dating back to the fourteenth century. Having withstood years of transition, from surviving war to natural wear and tear, the two spaces benefited from the construction of the PART project for its refurbishment and conservation of original sections of the buildings.
A project that transforms two medieval structures into modern containers with the ability to exhibit and host various contemporary artworks, all the while also incorporating the functional aspects of a working museum space. The PART project took eighteen months in total — but that includes a delay of six months due to the Covid-19 outbreak considering that the original inauguration date was set for March 2020. It was originally thought to open to the public in time for the summer season, a vital time for Rimini — the seaside city on the Adriatic coast which year after year, welcomes over 3.5 million tourists, both Italian and international alike. With the opening of PART, Rimini aims to grow and encourage the development of its cultural offer to both local residents and tourists.
The transformation of the medieval buildings into a functional museum faced several challenges, including the conservation of original frescoes, the installation of new and needed electrical work, and the lack of wall space to exhibit the pieces. The museum required not only an aesthetic space to host the many artworks but also the construction of functional areas, such as a ticket office at the entrance and a cafeteria. With each problem, the architectural Studio Ar.ch.it, headed by Luca Cipelletti, found an adequate solution: «PART is a museum project that brings together art and architecture. The challenge was to find a project synthesis between the development of two important medieval buildings and the display of a contemporary art collection».
The Fondazione San Patrignano Collection of sixty-two artworks, a mixture of paintings, photography, and sculptures, is headed by Letizia Moratti, the co-founder of the Fondazione San Patrignano, a private foundation started in 1978 with the aim to help and support young people suffering from substance addiction. Each piece has been donated by a gallery, artist, institution or collector, therefore the key theme of the collection would be the idea of donation and giving.
Artists include Damien Hirst, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Loredana Longo, Vanessa Beecroft, Mona Hatoum, and other contemporary names. They were all chosen by curator Clarice Pecori Giraldi, who believes that «the concept of artistic heritage in Italy is mainly traced back to ancient art; the opening of PART Palazzi dell’Arte Rimini is further evidence of the fact that contemporary art also contributes significantly to this heritage».
In addition to the large collection, displayed in almost its entirety, at the entrance, the visitor is greeted by a mural hand-painted by Swiss-English artist David Tremlett. The earthy tones of the mural’s columns chosen by Tremlett reflect the colors found within the Emilia Romagna city, demonstrating the museum’s aim to integrate as a new cultural space.
The medieval aspect of PART constitutes not only its setting but also the inclusion of the large fresco painting entitled Giudizio Universale by Giovanni da Rimini from the fourteenth century, which was originally painted in the nearby Sant’Agostino church. Due to various factors, it was moved to a different location to be preserved, and has now found a new home on the second-floor exhibition space of Palazzo dell’Arengo. The placement of a work dating back to approximately 1315 creates an immediate dialogue and debate with its contemporary neighbors.
PART is not restricted to indoor spaces. The museum has plans to include a garden as an additional exposition space that should be completed by March 2021.IMAGE GALLERY