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Le Gallerie d’Italia

Venues for art and culture in the heart of Italian cities

The most significant achievement of Progetto Cultura is the creation of the Gallerie d’Italia, which brings together the museum and cultural centres belonging to Intesa Sanpaolo nationwide. The bank’s historical buildings situated in the heart of Italian cities are transformed into exhibition venues to make its most important collections accessible to the public.

The explicit ambition is to create a network of cultural centres that encompasses the entire national territory. Places suitable for arousing the interest of the people and bringing them closer to art in its various expressions, centres destined to host temporary exhibitions, cultural and academic events, as well as musical projects and educational workshops.

The concept of the Gallerie d’Italia springs from the desire – perceived as a duty – to share Intesa Sanpaolo’s vast heritage with the general public, at the service of the country’s cultural growth. Formed from valuable art collections (ranging from archaeological finds to the art of the nineteenth century, approximately 20,000 art works of which 10,000 are of particular historical-artistic interest), from buildings of major architectural and civic importance and from precious archives, this legacy has been inherited by the almost 250 banks from different regions in Italy that have been merged into the Group.

The Gallerie d’Italia project reached one of its defining moments with the opening of the Gallerie di Piazza Scala in Milan.

In November 2011, the section devoted to nineteenth century art was opened. On display in the rooms of the eighteenth-nineteenth century Palazzo Anguissola and Palazzo Brentani, situated between Via Manzoni and Via Morone, are 197 works from the nineteenth century from the Fondazione Cariplo and Intesa Sanpaolo collections, in an exhibition entitled From Canova to Boccioni and curated by Fernando Mazzocca.

Today, just one year later, the Milanese Galleries are enriched with another new section, reaching a total surface area of 8,300 m2. Set in the early twentieth century palazzo on Piazza della Scala, the historical premises of Banca Commerciale Italiana, the new venue opens with an exhibition project entitled Cantiere del ’900, aimed at valorising the vast and varied Intesa Sanpaolo collections of twentieth century art. The opening exhibition in this ambitious project, curated by Francesco Tedeschi, presents 189 works from the Italian post World War II period selected from the bank’s collections.

The exhibition and cultural centre of Milan joins the existing Vicenza and Naples venues, already open to the public.

Palazzo Leoni Montanari in Vicenza, a prestigious Baroque residence dating back to the late seventeenth century, was transformed in 1999 into the eponymous Galleries, with a total area of 2,500 m2. It is home to approximately 140 Russian icons, a selection of over 400 works that together constitute the largest collection of its kind in the Western world, and to a precious collection of 40 paintings from eighteenth century Veneto, an expression of the final and splendid artistic history of the Most Serene Republic of Venice.

For the Gallerie of Palazzo Leoni Montanari, Progetto Cultura has an expansion and reorganisation plan in store, which envisages: the exhibition by rotation of nuclei of artworks taken from the vast collection of Classical Greek and South Italian Ancient Greek pottery (found in the storage areas adjoining the Palazzo); a new layout of the exhibition devoted to eighteenth century Veneto painting, with the possible integration of more artworks belonging to the same context but currently conserved in different Group premises; a multimedia project on the Palazzo and the collections on display and a reorganisation of the educational and information devices.

Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano, which stands on Via Toledo in Naples, became the second Intesa Sanpaolo exhibition venue in 2007, with a display area of 900 m2. This is home to a group of 20 artworks that includes, next to an important series of eighteenth-nineteenth century vedute of Naples and the Campania countryside, one of the great masterpieces of the Intesa Sanpaolo collections: the famous Martyrdom of Saint Ursula by Caravaggio, one of the last works by the great Lombardy artist.

The Naples Galleries will also be subject to an expansion project involving the collections on display, aimed at concentrating the bank’s seventeenth to nineteenth century works belonging to the cultural context of Southern Italy in the city, not to mention a multimedia project on the Palazzo and the collections on display, and a reorganisation of the educational and information devices.

Intesa Sanpaolo plans to enrich this unprecedented “Grand Tour” through the Gallerie d’Italia of Milan, Vicenza and Naples with new venues, called upon to reflect the country’s complex artistic culture. In the future, the Gallerie d’Italia network may be expanded with the opening of new cultural and museum centres in the heart of some major Italian cities.