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The Regional Museum of Messina, Province of Messina, Sicily, Italy

Established in 1914 in a former silk weaving mill, along the seacoast road leading from Messina to the lighthouse, the museum hosts the collections of the Civico Museo Peloritano and a great number of works rescued from the ruins of palaces and churches destroyed in the 1908 earthquake and in the Second World War; among the most important works are paintings by Antonello da Messina and Caravaggio.




The Regional Museum of Messina, Sicily Details: Address: Museo Regionale, Viale Della Liberta' 465, 98121 Messina (ME) - Telephone: +39 090 361292 -- opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 9-13.30; afternoons: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday: 16-18.30 Sunday 9-12.30 -- Non-Official website: www.torrese.it/presentazione_sale.htm

How to reach it:
By car: from Palermo take A20, exit Messina. By ferryboat, from Salerno, Reggio Calabria. By plane, the nearest airport is Palermo Falcone-Borsellino, where car rental is easily available.

DESCRIPTION

The museum consist of different sections including archaeology, medieval art, Renaissance and later art, goldsmithery and crafts, exhibited in 14 different rooms all around a courtyard, and offering a historical cross-sections of the cultural life of the town.

The entrance boulevard welcomes the visitor with a Statue of Neptune, made by Giovanni Angelo Montorsoli in 1557. Over the walls of the entrance hall, nine bronze panels made in the 19th century by goldsmith Spina on drawings by Carlo Minaldi describe the legend of the Holy Letter given by the Virgin Mary in 42 AD to ambassadors from Messina who visited her in Palestine, an event that made the "Madonna della Lettera" patron of the city.

Among the works of the Byzantine period are fragments of the Cathedral, painted with subjects from the Old and New Testament, a well as mosaics of the 14th century. From the Gothic period (14th and 15th centuries) a marble Madonna degli Storpi, a work dated 1333 by Gozo di Gregorio and a triptych on wood of the Sienna school, a painted cross and other paintings on wood of the Catalan school.

Of the period representing the early Renaissance in Messina (first half of the 15th century) a statue of the Virgin with Child by Baboccio from Piperno, previously inserted above the door of the Cathedral, a huge wooden crucifix of the Provençal area, a low-relief of the Virgin with Child ascribed to Desiderio from Settignano, another low-relief by Domenico Gagini representing St. George and the Dragon; a round glazed majolica representing the Virgin with Child, of the Della Robbia school.

Fourth Room: among the Sicilian Renaissance works, a masterpiece by Antonello da Messina, the Polyptych of San Gregorio, dated 1473; other paintings also by Flemish artists, as the polyptychs with the stories of St. John, ascribed to Hendrik Met de Bles, and a Deposition of Christ by Colijin de Cote. The San Gregorio Polyptich was made in 1473, and in the 18th century had already been dismantled and the 6 panels separated. It is today reunited, but the central top panel is missing. Here Antonello da Messina employed techniques acquired during his travels, and shows the influence of Piero della Francesca and Italian and international masters. Among the greatest Italian artists of the 15th century, Antonello introduced into Italian art oil glazing, developed by Jan van Eyck, that became a feature also of 15th-century Venetian, and becaime a master at portraiture in Italy.

Caravaggio in Messina: the whole 10th room is devoted to Caravaggio (alias of Michelangelo Merisi), who worked in Messina in his last period, between 1608 and 1609, with two masterpieces, the Adoration of the Shepherds and the Resurrection of Lazarus, as well as works of other painters showing the Caravaggio influence. The Adoration of the Shepherds was commissioned by the Senate of Messina in 1908 for the main altar of the Chiesa dei Cappuccini; the painter had been banished from Rome for killing a man during a brawl, and was wandering through southern Italy waiting for a pardon, and was well received in Messina. The painting well reflects with its dark colors his tragical experience, and the divine characters are interpreted as very human, humble creatures, with the poor agricultural tools in the foreground.

The other work by Caravaggio, a huge 380 x 275 oil painting ordered by a merchant, Giovan Battista Lazzari, was finished in june 1609 and shows a masterly use of a single source of light, that makes Lazarus' body stand out. One of the passersby, looking at Christ with hands joined in prayer, is a self portrait of the artist, eyes flaming with inspiration.

In the rooms devoted to more recent centuries are paintings of the 17th and 18th century by Barbalonga, Agostino Scilla, Avagliata, Filippo Tancredi.

The 13th Room also called Treasury Room, situated on the upper floor, preserves precious creations in gold, silver and ivory, as well as artistic cribs and majolicas made by Messinese artists and artisans in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The Adoration of the Shepherds, Caravaggio - detail
The Adoration of the Shepherds, Caravaggio
detail: a very young Virgin with child

Resurrection of Lazarus
Resurrection of Lazarus, detail

Resurrection of Lazarus
Resurrection of Lazarus
detail with painter's self-portrait (looking to the left)

The Adoration of the Shepherds, Caravaggio
The Adoration of the Shepherds, Caravaggio

Polittico di San Gregorio, Antonello da Messina, detail
Polittico di San Gregorio, Antonello da Messina
detail of central bottom panel

A Map of the MUSEO REGIONALE - MESSINA




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