The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto, MART, came into being in 1987 as an independently administered body of the Autonomous Province of Trento. The MART still comprises three galleries: Palazzo delle Albere in Trento, the Casa-Museo Fortunato Depero in Rovereto (temporarily closed for restoration; its reopening is planned for spring 2008), and the large complex designed by the architect Mario Botta, together with the Rovereto engineer Giulio Andreolli, and inaugurated in Rovereto on 15 December 2002.
The museum building comprises four floors. Located in and around the main lobby are the reception desk, the information area, the bookshop, the cafeteria, the lecture hall, and the cloakroom. Visitors may proceed from the ground floor to the basement area, which houses the Archivio del '900 with its collections of historical archives and the Library, or to the first floor, which consists of areas set aside for temporary exhibitions, the museum's educational section, and its offices. The exhibition area covers some 5,600 square metres and occupies the second and third floors of the building.
The MART has had its own specific character from the very beginning, a result of the particular variety and makeup of the constituents of its collections. Book funds, historical archives and works are today the museum's rich cultural inheritance.
From this point of view the MART is not just a conservation body but also, and above all, a 'cultural laboratory'. Its exhibition activity is closely linked to that of conservation, study, development, and research through the promotion of conventions, study days, seminars, conferences, and the programming of editorial initiatives about the study of archival sources.
The MART's valuable permanent collection comprises of more than 15,000 paintings, drawings and sculptures, and has been built up over the years through acquisitions, donations, and bequests from important private collections. A large part of the collection is devoted to Futurism. Indeed, the MART possesses more than 3,000 works - drawings, paintings, sculptures and tapestries - bequeathed to the museum by the artist Fortunato Depero. Italian twentieth-century art is represented by works from the Giovanardi collection, among them masterpieces by Osvaldo Licini, Mario Sironi, Massimo Campigli, and Carlo Carrà, and an important group of paintings by Giorgio Morandi.
The museum's valuable collection also comprises works by Gino Severini, Giorgio de Chirico, and Felice Casorati. Abstract and informal art is represented by Fausto Melotti, Lucio Fontana, Alberto Burri, Afro,Toti Scialoja, Gastone Novelli, Emilio Vedova, Antonio Sanfilippo, and Carla Accardi, besides paintings and sculptures by numerous other outstanding Italian artists. In the section of the museum devoted to contemporary art, the Panza di Biumo collection comprises works by the foremost American artists of the 1980s and 1990s. In recent years, a systematic endeavour to expand Mart's collection has led to the acquisition of works by artists engaged in the most advanced inquiry of the 1970s and 1980s, among them Alighiero Boetti, Mario Merz, Giulio Paolini, Salvatore Scarpitta and Jannis Kounnelis, while contemporary international art is outstandingly represented by Bruce Naumann, Arnulf Rainer, Hermann Nitsch, Richard Long, Andreas Gursky and Candida Höfer.
In the early years of the new site, Mart – which has seen over one million visitors to date – has organised exhibitions on Italian artists such as Medardo Rosso, Luigi Russolo, Thayaht, Fausto Melotti, Vittore Grubicy, Mario Sironi, Carol Rama, Giulio Paolini, Alighiero Boetti; thematic exhibitions on particular groups of works within the permanent collections, and constant research in the worlds of design, applied arts and contemporary art.
Above all, however, the museum has produced exhibitions on original and innova-tive themes, on each occasion involving high-profile scientific committees. Among the most important initiatives, it is worth noting "La Danza delle Avanguardie" (’The dance of the avant-gardes’), on the links between visual arts and dance, and exhibi-tions such as "Montagna arte scienza mito" (’Mountain art science myth’) and "Il Bello e le bestie" (’Beauty and the beasts’), and “La parola nell’arte” (“The Word in art”).
Alongside these exhibitions, Mart also organises numerous opportunities for enthu-siasts, tourists, scholars and residents: film screenings, concerts, cycles of confer-ences, meetings with artists and critics, debates, study conferences.
THE TEACHING DEPARTMENT
The Teaching Department of MART was created in 1984 in order to promote the artistic patrimony of the Museum and foster an understanding of modern and contemporary art.
Since its outset with about 1,000 visitors, the Museum has gone on to receive about 70,000 visitors a year (school parties and the general public) in its laboratories, for guided visits, the art studios related to exhibitions and for art and history of art courses, as well as refresher courses for teachers.
Laboratories/ wokshops: the basic principle of the workshops is to learn through doing: unlike contemporary practice which often begins with the study of the history of art, the labs begin with objects and build up a sense of the aesthetic. In 1992, this innovative approach to contemporary art and the "methodology able to modify categories and preconceptions at the base of the classical understanding of images", led to MART receiving the prestigious International Creative Future Award during the year that Madrid was European Cultural Capital.
Permanent, temporary and itinerant exhibitions: the ongoing learning activities of MART are related to the permanent collections and the Archivio del '900. Temporary activities include guided visits and laboratories/art studios/ateliers related to the exhibitions at MART. Permanent learning activities have different aims and contents according to the target age.
(Archivio del'900) The material kept in the historical archives has been built up on the initial documentary section (archive and library) left by Fortunato Depero to the city of Rovereto in 1957. The museum has since then strengthened the reserve through donations and acquisitions which have given the archival section a fundamental role with regard to the scientific programming and the cultural aims of the whole institute. At the moment we have about thirty, mainly personal, funds grouped into three areas of interest: Futurism, art and criticism, architecture.
Over the years the Archivio del '900 has undertaken various actions aimed at preserving and promoting its material: the restoration and repair of documents, the reordering and cataloguing of documents, the classification and digitalisation of individual records, the honing of tools for research. The description of the reserves and their creators in compliance with ISAD (G) and ISAAR (CPF) international standards, begun in 2000, has allowed us to determine aspects of the history of archiving, of the logic of classification, and links to documents kept in other institutes or still in the possession of the heirs. All this information has been gathered together in a printed guide (Guida all'Archivio del '900. Biblioteca e fondi
archivistici, Mart - Skira, Milan, 2003).
This sector promotes the study and assessment of its archives with publications and exhibitions, acquisitions, links with other organisations, and the organisation of such other related events as conferences and meetings. Apart from our association with the Autonomous Province of Trento, we would also mention our connections with the ICAM and the AAA/Italia, with the ANAI and the national archive classification group, and with Yale university and the Getty museum.
Our funds can be consulted and specialised personnel will be of assistance both on the spot and for outside inquiries. Entry is free, from Monday to Friday, and appointments are not necessary.
The library - together with the rest of the institute - was begun as a result of a statute providing for its foundation in 1987 and which donated the new museum all the books that had until then been kept in the provincial art museum of Trento and the Depero museum in Rovereto, the latter having a rich reserve of publications that had originally belonged to Fortunato Depero.
Right from the start the library has been characterised by its mixture of specialised publications about contemporary art, assembled as an aid to work within the museum, and an almost archival collection of books dealing with the historical and biographical events of twentieth century art. The Depero library was soon supplemented by the personal libraries of other artists, architects, and critics which arrived at the MART as a result of donations, deposits, and acquisitions: authentic 'bibliographical archives'. The absence as much as the presence of particular volumes in certain cases, the notes added to many well-thumbed texts, and the signed inscriptions that build up for us the intellectual relationships of various generations tell us a lot about these personal libraries and the Weltanschauung of those who owned and used
these books and formed their ideas through them. In the context of collecting sources about twentieth century art, MART's library has also become specialised in finding important original editions on the antiques market, above all those dealing with avant-garde movements, particularly the Futurists.
And so, with acquisitions from the antiques market and the purchase of complete libraries, MART's library has become one of the world's leading public collections of original Futurist publications. And not just that. It also has a notable group of publications about the avant-gardes of the second half of the twentieth century, in particular those concerned with verbal-visual inquiries (which owe so much to the Futurists' experiments with words) the exhaustive documentation of which has been notably increased by the deposit of the Paolo Della Grazia archive of new writing (Archivio della Nuova Scrittura) from Milan which is the
most ample deposit of printed material we have received, with over 10,000 volumes and hundreds of periodicals.