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Façade of Palazzo Bartolini Salimbeni.

Florence’s First Modern and Contemporary Art Museum to Open in March

Italian collector Roberto Casamonti is set to open the first museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art in Florence. The Florentine founder of the Tornabuoni Art gallery has bought and restored the High Renaissance Palazzo Bartolini Salimbeni, dating from 1523. The historic space will house his personal collection of more than five thousand works by Alberto Burri, Lucio Fontana, Enrico Castellani, Piero Manzoni, Alighiero Boetti, Giorgio de Chirico, Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Anish Kapoor, among other artists. 

“The birth of this project comes from a desire to share my collection with the city of Florence and to promote a love of contemporary art,” Casamonti said. “I am strongly convinced of the educational value of art, how it stimulates thought and animates our life. I want my collection to be accessible to all, regardless of their ability to pay, because I too believe, like [Fyodor] Dostoevsky, that beauty can save the world.”

The private museum will be free to the public but open only by appointment. Casamonti and the Associazione Culturale, which will run the space, have pledged to donate all profits from merchandise sales and events hosted at the space to scholarships for students studying art history in Florence. The 2018 inaugural exhibition will include works from the early twentieth century to the 1960s, and in March 2019, the collection will be rehung to display works from the 1960s to the present.

For Bruno Corà, president of the Fondazione Alberto Burri and the curator of the museum’s inaugural exhibitions, the Casamonti collection is “one of the most important collections of its kind in Italy.” He added, “This generous philanthropic act will allow the city’s art lovers, as well as its millions of tourists, to enjoy the fruit of [Casamonti’s] passion for contemporary culture, which has driven his collecting since the very start. It is also a way for him to give something back to the city that he loves and that has nurtured his career.”

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