Art lovers cannot miss a visit to the MAR – Art Museum of the city of Ravenna. With exhibitions, festivals and a collection of modern and ancient art, this place is one of the beating hearts of the city’s cultural life.
The museum is in the area of the public gardens, in the sixteenth-century monastery knowned as Loggetta Lombardesca, which was once part of the adjacentabbey of Santa Maria in Porto. From Napoleon’s invasions onwards, this building underwent namely several reconversions of use.
What remains today is the original structure and rooms, and the elegant loggia with five arches, which has become the emblem of the museum’s architecture.
The MAR, once the municipal art gallery (Pinacoteca Comunale), became an official museum institution in 2002, relaunching the city’s cultural and exhibition activities alongside important conservation and research initiatives, such as the International Mosaic Documentation Centre (CIDM).
The museum’s collections
The first nucleus of the art gallery is composed of works acquired in 1982 from the city’s religious corporations, further enriched over the years thanks to donations and private bequests.
It is a great treasure that counts over three-hundred works of art, with paintings and sculptures between the 14th and the 19th century, plus a large collection of small-format panels from the 14th and 15th centuries.
The tomb of Guidarello Guidarelli, made by Tullio Lombardo in 1525, is a very important piece of the museum. Also, Giorgio Vasari’s 1548 painting Lamentation over Christ Deposed from the Cross, commissioned by the Monastery of Classe, is of fundamental importance, as well as the great canvas of St. Romuald by Guercino, magnificent for its colours and composition.
Nonetheless, the art gallery is also open to modernity.
The contemporary collection features a female nude by Klimt, whereas the second half of the twentieth century is documented by the most important names of Roman Pop Art, such as Schifano and Tano Festa, as well as by the the great names of Abstractionism, such as Veronesi, Boetti, Dadamaino, Olivieri, Castellani, Griffa, Mondino and Cattelan.
In addition, the museum hosts a suggestive collection of contemporary mosaics, thanks to the scholar Giuseppe Bovini, who donated the original nucleus with the aim of highlighting the refined technique of Ravenna mosaic artists, adjusting it to the spirit of contemporary painting.
The exhibition displays names of the likes of Guttuso, Capogrossi, Vedova and Chagall, entrusted to draw the sketches of future mosaic works.Furthermore, the collection is constantly enhanced with new works; despite being in mosaic, they manage to overcome the traditional technique’s orthodoxy
The museum also includes a busy educational programme, which aims to promote knowledge of the temporary and permanent collections, and to bring the younger public closer to art, organizing events, workshops and animated guided tours.