Turin’s Museo Civico opened to the public on
June 4, 1863, in the building on Via Gaudenzio Ferrari (the Museum later moved
to Palazzo Madama in 1933). Initially, the collections were very varied, even
though they were all focused on Turin’s history: archeological finds discovered
while paving new roads in the city, 19th-century paintings from
Piedmont, mementoes from the Risorgimento, collections of Savoy coins. But also
testimonies of the “history of handmade objects from Byzantine times to the 18th
century”: glass, ceramics, textiles, embroidery, enamels, works in ivory, gold,
iron, and leather, furniture, illuminated manuscripts, gems, and cameos. The
interest in applied arts from the Middle Ages to the 1700s would then become
one of the two driving forces for future acquisitions, while archeological
finds, mementoes from the Risorgimento, and 19th-century paintings
would gradually be given to other city museums. As the 1800s ended and using
the South Kensington Museum of London—opened in 1851—as a model, the Museo
Civico would become a museum of arts and industry. An Italian Kunstgewerbemuseum,
which shared with other institutions abroad the utopia of influencing the
qualitative aspects of coeval artistic artisanry and nascent industrial
productions, providing craftsmen and designers with a great number of models of
all types and techniques and of great formal quality. In parallel, before the
new unified State opened an Office for the Conservation of Monuments (the
current-day Superintendence), the Museum focused on saving ancient sculptures
from churches and castles across Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta and from the Savoy
family from the antiques market and exportation abroad. Starting around 1910
another focus for the Museum became only “regional” painting: early Piedmont
painters from the 15th to 16th century and artists associated
with the Savoy court between the 1600s and 1700s.
Palazzo Madama, closed for restoration
beginning in 1987 for almost twenty years, reopened to the public in December
2006 with a completely renewed museography and still today follows its two-fold
vocation that had been defined in the late 1800s: a museum of the city and
Piedmont and a museum of decorative arts from all ages and places.
Discover our collections through the different historical periods and artworks.
The Museum at Palazzo Madama possesses important works of figurative art from the Middle Ages, mainly from Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta, often due to the suppression of religious orders that took place in the 1800s, or found on the antiques market.
The Palazzo Madama collections have traditionally offered a privileged opportunity for researching Renaissance painting and sculpture in Piedmont.
The first floor of Palazzo Madama hosts the Baroque art collections, installed in the apartment of the second Madama Reale, Marie Jeanne Baptiste of Savoy-Nemours. These include paintings, sculptures, furniture, and decorative arts from the 1600s to the early 1800s, in many cases from the Savoy collections.
The ceramics collection of Palazzo Madama includes over 4,000 works and is one of the most important in Italy.
Palazzo Madama possesses a rich collection of works in glass, painted glass and enamel.
The collections include textiles, crochet lace, garments and accessories, trimmings, and handmade furnishings manufactured mainly in Europe, especially in France and Italy, but also Asia and Africa.
In the second half of the 19th century, many museums in Europe gathered handmade artifacts from other continents.
The medal collection of Palazzo Madama is made up of 26,500 coins, 6,700 medals, 250 banknotes, 140 seals, 600 gems, cameos, and glass paste, 220 bronze plaques
Palazzo Madama has a collection of graphic art composed of around 5,900 drawings and 9,000 engravings, ranging from the 16th to 19th century. The drawings are related to architecture, stage design, botany, and other subject matter.
Browse through the botanical collections of Palazzo Madama. The garden of Palazzo Madama hosts a great variety of flowers, plants and fruits.
The roses of the Palazzo Madama botanical garden that "made the history of an era".
The most famous and represented species in the garden, as well as part of our territory.
Textile and dyeing plants, widely used to obtain vegetable fibers or coloring pigments for clothes and fabrics.
Among the best known plants because they are used in the kitchen for many recipes.
Over a hundred plants with vulnerary and digestive, febrifugal and emollient properties but also the so-called "panacea" plants.
Plants that disseminate and independently find their spaces, species resistant to diseases and which attract a great biodiversity around them.
Ancient, wild and generally "forgotten" fruits: in the garden there are very well-known and once cultivated fruit trees that are rarely found elsewhere today.
The medieval garden is very rich in root plants, foliage and stems, fruit and seeds as well as legumes and grasses.
The Palazzo Madama magazine publishes original studies concerning the history of the Palazzo and the museum collections. Contents are in Italian only.
The museum carries out research on different fields and different disciplines: history, art history, anthropology, museology, new media and communication.
A reference library specializing in ancient, modern and contemporary art history, art criticism, museology, archeology, ethnography and numismatics. Particular attention is also paid to in-depth analysis of local issues and updates in the fields of interest of the Turin Civic Museums.
Formally established in the early 1930s to document the museum heritage and in general monuments and art objects of Piedmont, ancient and modern, today the Archive collects about three hundred and fifty thousand phototypes, consisting of photographic negatives and positives, on plates, on film, on paper (monochrome and color) and digitally.
The Fondazione Torino Musei collaborates and partners with exhibitions organised by other museums and cultural institutions in the belief that a willingness to lend museum collections is in the interests of public enjoyment and education (1995 London Principles, July 2002 rev.).