Museum of Ceramics
Montelupo Fiorentino

The museum tells of the centuries-long story of ceramics in Montelupo, a locus of "fabbrica di Firenze" production: an interesting journey through the history of objects that became hallmarks of Tuscany, and not only at the dining table.


Montelupo Fiorentino, Museum of Ceramics

The museum

The Museum of Ceramics tells the story of ceramics in Montelupo, a renowned locus of “fabbrica di Firenze” production. The maiolica works on display, dating from the late-13th to the 18th centuries, take visitors on a fascinating journey through time, learning all about the manufacture and utilization of these objects which, with their distinctive decorations and colors, were must-haves on the tables of noble Florentine families, in the refectories of religious institutions and in Tuscany’s oldest hospital apothecaries.

The museum itinerary is made up of eight rooms on two levels, each delving into specific subjects: on the first floor, The table, The discovery of the wash-house well, The workshop and, finally, The “Rosso di Montelupo”, with the famed homonymous dish on display. On the second level, the four subjects dealt with are Exports, Commissions, The traditional pharmacy and, finally, Flowers and animal, especially for children. The exhibition is accessible to the blind and visually-impaired thanks to reconstruction of objects, tactile tiles that highlight the most characteristic decorations, and captions in Braille.

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Works by great masters, multimedia reconstructions with voices and stories from the territory and the communities it hosts, archaeological finds and historical arts and crafts: every museum in the area offers great little stories to discover.

Sciences & Technics

Rosso di Montelupo

The form of this piece recalls the “acquareccia” basins used to catch water poured from a jug for hand-washing. A masterpiece of Italian Renaissance maiolica in vivid colors, it owes its name to the abundant use of red in its decoration, a color the chemical composition of which is still unknown.
Decorated with “grotesques,” it was created in 1509 in one of the most important workshops in Montelupo, that of Lorenzo di Piero Sartori whose “LO” trademark is elegantly painted on the back of the piece.  It was part of the Gustave de Rothschild collection in Paris, and was later acquired by the French antiquarian and collector Alain Moatti, from whom it was purchased in 2002 by the Municipality of Montelupo and a few private sponsors with the aim of donating it to the Museo.

Sciences & Technics

“Harlequin”

Towards the end of the 16th century, Montelupo ceramicists gained new fame with their inimitable “harlequins” – pieces named for their vivid, lively colors recalling the costume of the popular theatrical stock character. The stars of this type of decoration, which found great success until the start of the 18th century, are men and women depicted in scenes from everyday life – peasants, swordsmen, musketeers, drummers, often dressed in striped knee-length breeches and portrayed with caricatural sprightliness. In the “harlequins,” the figures stand out against a yellow ground, and the landscape is minimal but highly communicative in its simplicity, with specific characteristic elements: a few brush strokes of blue for the sky, two ever-present rocky peaks alongside the figures, and below, stony terrain with a band of green atop it.

This type of ceramic ware, documented from the early years of the 18th century, is found in major collections around the world, and is in fact recognized as the quintessential “montelupino” ceramics.

Sciences & Technics

72 Names – Italian Garden

Marco Bagnoli

This work by Marco Bagnoli is not only an homage to ancient craftsmanship, but also a nod to far-off lands. The site-specific work, sponsored by the Fondazione Museo Montelupo, establishes a profound dialogue between the artist and “his” territory. The 72 vases in enameled blue, green and copper at the third firing, are arranged in a composition of groups of five in the garden of the Villa Medicea dell’Ambrogiana. Their harmony is a symbolic representation of the Earth at the moment of its creation, a mystical, suspended landscape that can only be perceived through a calm inner vision. A garden without shadows, like those depicted in the miniatures of the Nizami manuscript, a 17th-century anthology of Persian poetry. Bagnoli’s work also has an audio component, almost a song, generated by the vases themselves: the voices of master craftsmen, all from local factories and workshops, intoning verses by the Persian poet Rumi. The physical work is integrated with an artistic video by Giulia Lenzi in collaboration with OKNO Studio.

The land

The Montelupo area has been inhabited since prehistoric times, with successive Etruscan and Roman settlements. From the Renaissance to today, it has been a renowned locus of ceramics production.

Montelupo Fiorentino is just outside Florence, in a verdant area at the junction of the Pesa creek and the Arno River. Numerous finds now displayed at the Archeological Museum attest that the territory was inhabited beginning in the prehistoric age, with successive Etruscan and Roman settlements. Since the Renaissance, it has been a renowned center for ceramics production, where tradition and modernity come together in high-quality products with unique designs.

Numerous ceramics workshops are still open today, carrying on the town’s history of craftsmanship with skill and entrepreneurial spirit; one of the aims of the Museum of Ceramics is to preserve and enhance the memory of this know-how.

Montelupo also boasts the imposing Villa Medicea dell’Ambrogiana, standing on the left bank of the Arno, the river linking Florence with Livorno. Set in a large park, the Villa was once a Medici hunting lodge, and the favorite residence of Cosimo III.

  • Archaeology
  • Art
  • Memories
  • Sciences & Technics

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Useful information

Contacts

Museum of Ceramics
(Museo della ceramica)
Piazza Vittorio Veneto, 10
50056 – Montelupo Fiorentino (Firenze)
tel. +39 0571 1590301
sito: www.museomontelupo.it

Opening hours

Monday
2 pm – 7 pm

Tuesday – Sunday
9 am – 7 pm

The museum is open with limited hours on December 24 and 31 (9 am – 2 pm)

The museum is closed December 25 and 26, January 1, Easter Sunday and May 1

Entrance is free the first Sunday of every month

Tickets

Individual ticket

Regular: 5,00 €
Reduced type A: 4,00 €
Reduced type B: 3,00 €
Reduced type C: 1,00 €


Type A reductions for:

  • adults over 65
  • groups of 15 to 35 people

Type B reductions for:

  • groups of at least 35 with guide or tour leader
  • university students with proof of student status

Type C reductions for:

  • participants in sporting events in the Montelupo Fiorentino area and their chaperones
  • guests of accommodations affiliated with the Strada della Ceramica di Montelupo

Further information available HERE

 

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