Italy has long been famous for its art, and being the birthplace of many painters, architects and artists of all fields and styles. When it comes to exploring art in Italy, most people think of popular cities such as Florence and Venice - where famous artists used to live and work. Less attention is paid to Bologna, the capital city of the Emilia-Romagna region. Explore the hidden art gems in the underrated Bologna with me.
Palazzo Pepoli’s thorough exhibition
Recently renovated by the Genus Bononiae Foundation, the Museum of History of Bologna (Palazzo Pepoli) is dedicated to the long history and culture of Bologna that has transformed drastically through eras. The most remarkable exhibition here was set up by the world-famous architect Mario Bellini, with the design work created by the Italian architect Italo Lupi. Cultural heritage, discovered and preserved by the people in Bologna, is exhibited through new media such as virtual theatre videos, interactive touch screens and educational activities for visitors. Thanks to their modern multimedia displays, you can now enjoy exploring the local history, religion, traditions, art, science, humanities, music, languages, and cuisine with a self-guided tour.
Bologna Museum of Modern Art exhibits contemporary art
Located in the centre of the Bologna’s art district, Manifattura delle Arti, Bologna Museum of Modern Art (MAMBO) focuses on various research activities in cooperation with many art galleries around the city. Art from World War II to the contemporary is exhibited here. The full entrance price is 6 EUR (roughly 6.5 USD) and there is free admission to the permanent collection every first Sunday of the month. The museum runs various activities in the field of contemporary art such as documenting aesthetic pursuits, artistic expression and visual culture.
Archaeological Museum of Bologna
The third recommended museum on the list when visiting Bologna is the Archaeological Museum of Bologna (Museo Civico Archeologico). This museum houses over 200,000 artworks including many Roman pieces and houses a large numismatic collection. If you like exploring the archaeology of Bologna throughout many eras, this is the right place! The full price to the museum is 5 EUR (roughly 5.5 USD) and there’s also free admission every Sunday.
Abundant street art
Art in Bologna is abundant and affordable too! One of my favourite things about this city is the hidden street art. Stroll through the neighbourhood near the Bologna Centrale railway station to find plenty of street art. The Use It organization created a digital map of street art around Bologna that you can download for free. While hunting for street art here, look for the work of a famous artist known as Blu. Living now in Bologna, he has traveled throughout America and Europe, where he left plenty of his graffiti artwork since 1999. From the early 2000s, he started transforming his style into ‘house painting’, using lots of massive human figures that resemble ‘comic and video game’ art.
Plenty of other museums to check out
Several other interesting museums to keep in mind are the Museo di Palazzo Poggi, the Oratory of San Colombano, and the Palazzo Fava. The Palazzo Poggi hosts some of the most graphic exhibitions: the anatomical waxworks of Ercole Lelli that features 8 waxed and partly dissected men showing different features of human anatomy. If you are visiting Bologna in February, you will have the chance to enjoy multiple free art exhibitions in almost every museum around the city.
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