Since 1985 the Medieval Civic Museum has been housed in the Palazzo Ghisilardi, one of the most important buildings from the period when Bologna was under the dominion of the Bentivoglio family (1446 - 1506). The objects in the museum come from several important private collections that date as far back as the seventeenth century, including the encyclopedic collection of natural and artificial wonders collected by the Marquis Ferdinando Cospi, General Luigi Ferdinando Marsili's collection of weapons and other objects, and the collection of the artist Pelagio Palagi.
The most important objects in the museum provide a sense of Bolognese medieval life and range from exemplars of high medieval craftmanship of the seventh through ninth centuries to the large statue of Boniface VIII in gilded copper plate, wich was executed by Manno Bandini da Siena (1301) to commemorate the effort made by the pope bring an end to the war between Bologna and Ferrara.
Near the statue of Boniface VIII, is on display large cope with Stories of the Life of Christ
. This is one of the most significant surviving examples of opus anglicanum.
During the Middle Ages it was a common practice in Bologna, as in other major university cities, to dedicate sculpted funerary monuments to the professors who taught at the institution. The museum holds a number of monumental tombs, many of which portray the teacher as he lectures to his students.
The museum's collections is enriched by a wide range of ivories from France and Italy, precious glass from Murano, prized arms, numerous and rare objects from the court of the Bentivoglio family wich are significant exemplars of refined fifteenth-century Ferrarese craftsmanship. Much space in the museum is given over to Renaissance and Baroque bronze sculptures by artists working in Bologna (the model for the statue of Nettuno by Giambologna, Algardi's Saint Michael Archengel and Bernini's bust of Gregorio XV Ludovisi) and the art of Bolognese illuminated books work, with celebrated examples of choir books, statues of the art guilds and liturgical books from the thirteenth through sixteenth centuries.
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