The Central Museum of the Risorgimento at the Vittoriano
In 1878, at the death of Victor Emmanuel II, who had assumed the title of king of Italy in 1861 with the creation of the Italian State, the Parliament decided to build, in Rome, a monument dedicated to the first king of unified Italy, thus called Vittoriano (from "Victor").
This monument-which was inaugurated in 1911-would have housed the Central Museum of the Risorgimento, destined to gather the testimonies of the political, economical, and social transformation of Italy during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. These testimonies consist of papers (letters, journals, work manuscripts), paintings, sculptures, drawings, engravings, prints, arms, which recall the events and chief protagonists of this important period of the history of our Country, thus forming a vast memorial archive of the Risorgimento.
The walls of the Museum, within the Vittoriano's complex, carry, engraved in the marble, extracts of significant texts by the major witnesses of the history of Italy, so rendering the Victor Emmanuel Monument itself an integral part of the Museum. The expositive route currently proposed follows the fundamental stages in the history of Italy, from the reforms of the various peninsular States occurred during the second half of the 18th century to the end of the First World War, through testimonies of different kinds, which lay themselves open to various interpretations.
All along the walls of the staircase leading to the Museum, there are numerous engravings that illustrate the events which prepared the Risorgimento, from the diffusion of the ideals of the French Revolution to the evoking of the exploits of Napoleon: in general, these are symbolic depictions which sometimes take up themes from the classical antiquity and turn them into allegories of modern history. The first section of the Museum is dedicated to the chief protagonists of the Risorgimento.
Big caskets expose relics, paintings and documents concerning Garibaldi, Mazzini and Cavour, while parallel sections illustrate other figures associated with the history of the 19th century. The gallery is divided into single sections pivoting on the major stages of the Risorgimento struggles: from the Restoration, which followed the fall of Napoleon, to 1848; from the Roman Republic set up in 1849 to the exploits of the Thousand (1860), to the rejoining of Rome to Italy (1870).
At the same time, along the gallery, a parallel and complementary route aims at illustrating particular historical "themes": the Civic Guard, the brigandage, the political satire, the historical depiction techniques during the 19th century (from drawings to photography), the relics, the Italian Flag, the coins and medals. The whole route is scanned by a selection of the arms that belonged to the Risorgimento "heroes".
The final section of the Museum is entirely dedicated to the First World War. In the middle of the section, there is the gun carriage used in 1921 for transporting the remains of the Unknown Warrior, while the walls bear large paintings illustrating the exploits of the Gold Medals and a series of drawings and paintings realised by painter-soldiers Anselmo Bucci, Aldo Carpi and Italico Brass, together with other relics from the First World War.
As an ideal conclusion of this route, appropriate video-installations realised by the Istituto Luce offer a reworking of images taken from the film Gloria, made in 1934 with original materials shot by the cine-operator party of the Italian Army, suitably linked to photos, paintings, and relics of the Museum in such a way as to evoke the exploits of the Italian Army during the war, in the most complete and correct way possible.
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