The collection is divided into
thirteen rooms and consists of about 1150 works of art of great variety, which document the collector’s keen passion and extraordinary critical farsightedness. There are paintings from the 13th to the 18th centuries, Italian and foreign miniatures from the13th to the 16th centuries, archaeological glassware, majolicas, pottery, bronze and marble sculptures, ivories, enamels, jewelry, all of them collected with great passion, and all of them precious documents of culture and art in Italy and Europe.
Some particularly interesting sections of the collection are the processional crosses, the glassware and singular rock crystal pieces and the large section of the so-called "primitive" paintings, with more than seventy works by Pietro Lorenzetti, Bernardo Daddi, Lippo Memmi, Lippo di Benivieni, Lorenzo di Bicci, Barnaba da Modena, Paolo di Giovanni Fei, Il Sassetta. Also worthy of mention are the many tempera and oil paintings including Vincenzo Foppa, Antonio Vivarini, Bergognone, Tintoretto, Sebastiano del Piombo, Giovanni Cariani, Gentile and Giovanni Bellini. For 16th century paintings,
the room with the collection of portraits is particularly noteworthy, with works by Titian, Paolo Veronese, Giovanni Battista Moroni, Pontormo. Then there are the 16th and 17th century paintings by the landscape painters of the Roman and Venetian schools, the latter represented by the 'vedute'
of Bernardo Bellotto, Canaletto, Francesco Guardi, Michele Marieschi. The Still Life room which closes the visit has mainly 17th century paintings, in which flowers, musical instruments and architectural fragments take on moral and symbolic meanings. In other words, a great journey into Italian painting and European art.
Educational activities, particularly those for schools, are an important part of the work of the Museum.
They are based on methodologies developed over a decade of experience. In order to interest children in the fascinating world of art and history through this rich collection, the Museum has for many years proposed the research project "School at the Museum, the Museum at school", which consists of themed itineraries that can be effectively used either in sequence or in a way which fits in with the school curriculum, creating a constructive interaction between the heritage preserved in the Museum and the syllabuses of the various school subjects. Through variously-structured experiences it is thus possible to "use" the museum and its works of art as a useful tool of knowledge and research. Each itinerary can be divided into various sessions, according to the theme and the target class, giving more space to the play aspect when smaller children are involved, so that each one can set free their imagination and creativity. In order to better serve a growing demand for these activities, both at and outside school, the museum has set up a permanent teaching laboratory, a "zero" space tailored to children, especially designed to make their time spent here more pleasant and comfortable. Our goal is thus learning through fun, our desire is to continually renew ideas and opportunities.
"Amedeo Lia" Museum
The "Amedeo Lia" museum of La Spezia is located in the old convent of the minimites of St. Francis from Paola,
who settled in the town in about 1620. The building of the convent and then the church began in 1616, the date when the land was granted to the monks by the Community of La Spezia. The building is in a strategically important position, at the point where the road linking the Gulf with Genoa exits from the walled town. Moreover, as can clearly be seen on the old maps and as the names of the surrounding roads still indicate, the area was particularly rich in water. In 1798, following the Jacobin suppressions, the convent lost its original function and became first a Military and then a Civic Hospital. These different functions led to profound changes in the physical layout, which were particularly marked in the 1820's. In this period the bell-tower was demolished, the roof relaid, a floor added underneath the church vault and a series of pilasters built inside the church to split up the original volume horizontally and create spaces which would serve as hospital wards. This extension was demolished during the re-adaptation of the building as a museum. The last modifications to the hospital in this location were made in 1896-1898 before it was then transferred. The building was abandoned from 1914 onwards and subsequently readapted as a barracks and residence. Finally, just after the war, its function was changed again; this time it became the Pretura (magistrates' court), hence municipal offices. Following Amedeo Lia's donation of his collection to the Borough of La Spezia, the building was selected as the site of the future museum. In the restoration, the operations of demolition and integration were limited to the indispensable, so as to emphasise the intrinsic qualities of the building and allow its original historical identity to emerge, while rendering it fit for its new function of museum.
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