Posted by: passagetoitaly | March 22, 2010

Off the Beaten Trail: Cortona, Italy: MAEC and Museo Diocesano

The month of March is quickly coming to an end, and next week will be the last Off the Beaten Trail Cortona feature for the month. I’m still trying to work out how many times I would like to post about a certain town, however, within each month one town will definitely be featured.

The Museo dell’Accademia Etrusca e della Citta’ di Cortona

You may remember reading about the MAEC, Museo dell’Accademia Etrusca e della Citta’ di Cortona in the first Cortona edition. It was created by the Accademia Etrusca in 1727, and is one of the major sources for Cortona’s art culture and of great importance. The MAEC official website explains its birth caused

… quando l’abate Onofrio Baldelli donò la sua collezione e la sua biblioteca all’Accademia Etrusca, appena costituitasi ad opera dei fratelli Marcello, Filippo e Ridolfino Venuti e di un ristretto gruppo di giovani nobili cortonesi, interessati alla cultura illuministica.

… when the abbot Onofrio Baldelli donated his collection and his library to the Accademia Etrusca, only after having formed an organization of the brothers Marcello, Filippo, and Ridolfino Venuti and a close group of young Cortonesi noble, interested in the enlightened culture.

It is composed of several different genres of exhibits, ranging from classical archaeology to more contemporary art. The museum showcases a large Egyptian exhibition, including a complete collection of objects donated to the Accademia by Monsignor Corbelli, Bishop of Cortona, who also happens to be an apostolic delegate to both Syria and Egypt.

It also has on display wide collections of Roman and Etruscan inscriptions, including the largest and most valuable of all Etruscan inscriptions; Roman and Etruscan instruments; terracotta objects; cinerary urns; pottery; as well as other objects used in the daily lives of the two old civilizations.

Gino Severini's Maternita', photo from

The artwork on display in the museum is by artists such as: Baccio Ciapri, Pietro di Cortona, Luca Signorelli, and Gino Severini, just to name a few.

By visiting the MAEC website, you can view pictures of some of the exhibits. Go to the link, Il Patrimonio, or simply click the link I’ve provided. Next, click on Galleria fotografica. I think my favorite has to be the courtyard of Palazzo Casale. Imagine an entire courtyard assembled within the museum!

Please also visit Il Parco Archeologico to learn about the town’s excavation efforts. There are also guided tours of the tumuli, tombs. Information about when the tours are available and the pricing can be found on the orari e informazioni page.

Il Museo Diocesano

Fra Angelico: Annunciation

The museum is part of several different structures – one formerly known as the Chiesa del Gesù, the Church of Jesus, and the original building of the 15th century Compagnia Laicale del Buon Gesù. The chiesa was once used as the baptistery of the Duomo during the 1700s, and contains a marble baptismal font by Ciuccio di Nuccio, which was also made in the 15th century. At the end of World War II, both structures became a museum. The museum contains works of Fra Angelico, Luca Signorelli, Pietro Lorenzetti, Sassetta Bartolomeo della Gattajust to name a few. ( Most photographs of the paintings are from Web Gallery of Art.

Click on each artist’s name to read their biographies. By clicking on the ‘Works’ link, in the upper right hand corner of each artist’s biography, you can view their paintings.

You can view the operating hours on the cortonaweb website, which also includes information on events in the town, photographs, culture, and other general information.

Enjoy your art viewings!


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