The new National Archaeological Museum of the Camonica Valley opens: here is the new location

For its 40th birthday, the National Archaeological Museum of the Camonica Valley is giving itself a new home: the institute in Cividate Camuno is presenting itself to the public in a new, larger, transformed, accessible space.

The National Archaeological Museum of the Camonica Valley presents itself to the public with a new home-a nice present for the 40th birthday of the institute, which opened its doors on July 5, 1981. The new museum comes three years after work began in the fall of 2018 in Cividate Camuno (Brescia), the ancient Civitas Camunnorum, one of the main centers of the Camonica Valley.

The museum’s new location is in the historic center of Cividate Camuno, in a former convent, later the site of the Business Incubator, right in front of the parish church, in the heart of the Roman Civitas and the medieval settlement, as evidenced by the remains found in the courtyard. It is a location that intends to concretize with visual evidence the historical stratification of the area rebandend its continuity, making the museum the living center of a diffuse archaeology, which contextualizes and explains it.

The architectural design, on the other hand, had to deal with the re-functionalization of a building that was inexpressive, tampered with, and not created for exhibition purposes. “On an architectural scale,” explains Ilaria Vol ta of the Volta architectural firm in Brescia, which oversaw the architectural, museographic and exhibition design, “the design action involved transforming a paratactic distribution of rooms, offices accessible by common paths arranged in a ring on overlapping floors, into a sequential path in which the visitor is accompanied in a continuous narrative through the sections of the museum. The plot is not chronological but the approach is thematic, in accordance with the scientific project. Each section is connoted by a color, which also recurs in the exhibition design translating the intentions of the scientific project into a new and welcoming language. The colors of the sections are not arbitrary, they belong to the Le Corbusier palette of 1931, with some forays into that of ’59 (white, black and gold).”

Color is also entrusted with the dialogue between ancient and modern classicism, in a seamless narrative. The colors of the sections harmonize, according to the grammar of Le Corbusier’s chromatic keyboard, in tonal chords with hinge-colors, which correspond to conjunctions in the phrasing of the narrative. The showcases in the installation are arranged like “unpacked” boxes in the act of surprise and discovery. On a colored ribbon, the artifacts are unveiled and told in their uniqueness.

On the path of the new Archaeological Museum of the Camonica Valley are exhibited the finds from the Roman period found in Cividate Camuno and the territory: materials from traditional settlements, a rich epigraphic collection, monumental architectural and sculptural elements, refined frescoes from the domus and rich funerary furnishings from the necropolis, with pendants and amulets also in gold and silver, charged with symbolic values. From a long glass opening those outside on the square can see one of the museum’s masterpieces, the statue of Minerva, from the Spinera Sanctuary in Breno. This is a choice meant to emphasize how there is no caesura between “inside and outside,” but a continuous osmosis, also reiterated by the archaeological area of Porta Castello in the building’s inner courtyard. The area, with a horizontally scrolling roof that re-proposes the ancient city through colorful graphics, is not part of the museum but is conceived as a hinge place, living in relation to the museum, the café, and the adjoining recreational spaces.

“The new museum, with cross-references to neighboring places as well, contextualizes the findings of the Camonica Valley in the broader framework of the Alpine arc, thus positioning itself as a museum of the Romanization of the Alps,” explains Serena Solano, archaeological officer of the Soprintendenza Archeologia Belle Arti e Paesaggio for the Provinces of Bergamo and Brescia, director of the Roman Camonica Valley Parks and scientific curator of the project. “The scientific project aimed to tell the story of the meeting of cultures, specifically that between Camuni and Romans, illustrating changes and novelties along with aspects of overlap and continuity. The phenomenon of Romanization of an Alpine valley is declined in its many aspects, from the transformation of the territory, exploitation of resources, cults, settlements, aspects of daily life, public spaces, and the funerary sphere. The itinerary aims to guide the visitor to discover the Roman Camonica Valley with a language that uses two registers, one more didactic and scientific and one more immediate, punctuated by the colorful and distinct sections, with moments also dedicated to discovery and play to stimulate curiosity and the desire for knowledge, especially of the youngest, through active involvement and fun.”

The Camonica Valley National Archaeological Museum is also the starting and ending point of the Valle Camonica roman route, which in Cividate Camuno has as its other stops the forum space partly visible in the archaeological area in Via Palazzo and the Archaeological Park of the theater and amphitheater, and then pushes on to reach, not far away, the Archaeological Park of the Sanctuary of Minerva from which the imposing sculpture of the goddess comes. Born of the will and efforts of the municipality and the Regional Directorate of Museums Lombardy, it would not have seen the light of day without the sharing of intentions with the Soprintendenza Archeologia Belle Arti e Paesaggio for the Provinces of Bergamo and Brescia and the contributions of the Lombardy Region and the Mountain Community of Valle Camonica, and above all without the passion of the many citizens who have followed, in various capacities, its realization feeling it as their own from the beginning.

“The new museum, located in the historic center, with a rationalized and expanded itinerary compared to the old location, responds to multiple needs,” explains Emanuela Daffra, regional director Museums Lombardy of the Ministry of Culture. “First of all, to that of giving space to a heritage, the one that emerged from the excavations, that is constantly growing, then to that of updating the routes with respect to the refinement of studies and the new horizons of the discipline, and last but not least, to approach a public that has completely different visual habits, styles and models of knowledge than in the 1980s and in continuous evolution. The exhibition spaces are not neutral and are the continuous bass that drives the dialogue between objects and visitors.”

The museum opens Tuesday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.

The new National Archaeological Museum of the Camonica Valley opens: here is the new location
The new National Archaeological Museum of the Camonica Valley opens: here is the new location

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