Italy reinstates 100 rarely-seen artworks to original sites

100 paintings, sculptures and artefacts hidden away in Italian storage facilities will be redistributed to less widely known state museums across the peninsula. “This project gives new life to works of art that are in fact not very visible,” explained Dario Franceschini, Italy’s culture minister.

Dubbed “100 opere tornano a casa” (One Hundred Works Return Home), the project involves fourteen of Italy’s most prestigious museums including Florence’s Uffizi Galleries, Milan’s Pinacoteca di Brera and Naples’s National Archaeological Museum. In an attempt to decentralise Italy’s vast state-owned heritage, many of the forgotten artworks will return to the sites they were originally created for through a series of loans.

Only 10% of Italy’s heritage is currently displayed,” said the spokesman for Franceschini. “We are making our smaller museums a little bigger, and encouraging more people to visit them in the process.” Around 480,000 artworks in Italian museums are currently on display, whilst a whopping 4.5 million reportedly remain in long-term storage.

The loan initiative began in 2015, when museum professionals compiled a database of 3,652 works from 90 state museums that were considered suitable for relocation. The Italian government have since allocated €1 million (£850,000) to the restoration and transportation of the works, as well as the reorganisation of museum displays.

This week, a total of 36 pieces are being dusted off and reinstated. Six religious paintings by Giovanni Baglione (1566-1643), Cristoforo Roncalli (1552-1626), and Simone Canterini (1612-1648) have already left the Pinacoteca di Brera to go to museums in Urbino and Oriolo Romano. Next to be transported are several serene landscapes by the baroque artist Salvator Rosa (1615-1673), which will move from Rome’s National Gallery of Ancient Art to the National Museum in Matera. The rest of the long-hidden treasures will travel to their new homes early next year.

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