After Monza, the exhibition entirely dedicated to witchcraft arrives in Bologna with many new features

After Monza, the witches' exhibition comes to Bologna with great news, surprises and never-before-seen objects. At Palazzo Pallavicini from February 17 to June 16, 2024.

From February 17 to June 16, 2024 Palazzo Pallavicini in Bologna welcomes Stregherie. Iconography, Facts and Scandals on the Subversives of History, conceived and produced by Vertigo Syndrome and curated by playwright, performer and esotericism expert Luca Scarlini. After the great clamor at the Villa Reale in Monza, the witch exhibition arrives in Bologna: in this new edition, great new features, surprises and unseen objects.

The exhibition, under the patronage of the Municipality of Bologna, displays about 300 prints, sculptures and paintings dedicated to the world of witches and magic, some created by the greatest engravers of the 19th century, others by anonymous illustrators. The collection of prints and engravings by “occult collector” Guglielmo Invernizzi is joined by many new works of art from private collections, both Italian and foreign, and new objects related to the world of witchcraft, lent by the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Cornwall, and the Museum of Civilizations in Rome, which is exhibiting, for the first time, its collection of 19th-century silver amulets. From the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Boscastle, Cornwall, come ancient cauldrons, fetishes, amulets, talismans and magic wands. The Museum of Civilizations in Rome, on the other hand, has opened its vault in which, among many other things, a remarkable collection of amulets is kept. Also present are the works of Emanuele Bardazzi, Edoardo Fontana and Luca Locati Luciani, collectors who have made Macabre Symbolism their line of research. The exhibition path thus offers a repertoire of sorceresses, witches, powerful women and deviant saints, but alongside scenes of torture, sabbaths and terrible evil, it also presents luminous images of white magic, of good witches.

Nine themed rooms in which visitors will be invited to discover the ancient religion of Diana, the Great Mother, by experiencing its history, places and rituals. The exhibition will open by letting visitors experience firsthand the suggestion and gravity of a real witchcraft trial held in a court of the Inquisition in 1539 and will close with the experience of writing in a Book of Shadows, where one can enclose and share one’s personal spells.

Alongside the works of art, the exhibition will feature exorcism manuals and some historical treatises. Found in convents, these very rare books come from the Biblioteca Teresiana in Mantua. One example is the Malleus Maleficiarum, the manual on witch-hunting most widely used by the church, which indicated, on a case-by-case basis, the tortures and punishments to be inflicted on those accused of witchcraft, present in the exhibition in its second edition, printed in 1520.

There will also be some contemporary artists who have revisited the theme, such as Oppy De Bernardo, Franco Rasma and Mirando Haz.

Throughout the exhibition, thesound element accompanies visitors: voices, whispers and heartbreaking cries evoke ancient rituals and, through the words of playwright Magdalena Barile, give voice to the witches themselves, who tell their stories, from their first vocation to their full self-realization through the use of magic. Of particular local interest is a room dedicated to Gentile Budrioli, the “enormissima witch of Bologna,” whose story is told in the exhibition through images and videos.

Finally, there is no shortage of immersive rooms: the first room, created in collaboration with theState Archives of Modena, is dedicated to a witchcraft trial that took place in 1539. Visitors will sit in the defendant’s dock and be placed in the center of the inquisitor’s tight fire of terrible accusations and the increasingly exhausted responses of the woman on trial who is willing to confess to obscene facts in order to end the torture. The second immersive room, which closes the exhibition, is instead composed of mirrors, lights and a central podium on which rests the Book of Shadows, the fundamental tool of every true witch. Armed with pen and inkwell, visitors will be invited to share their personal thoughts and spells forever with visitors who follow them.

For info:

Hours: Thursday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Closed Monday through Wednesday. Special openings Sunday, March 31 and Monday, April 1, 2024; Thursday, April 25; Wednesday, May 1; and Sunday, June 2.

Jean Veber, Modern Witches (color lithograph; Invernizzi Collection)
Jean Veber, Modern Witches (color lithograph; Invernizzi Collection)

After Monza, the exhibition entirely dedicated to witchcraft arrives in Bologna with many new features
After Monza, the exhibition entirely dedicated to witchcraft arrives in Bologna with many new features

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