The Violin Museum, Cremona
The Museo del Violino (Violin Museum) in Cremona, Italy, is a musical instrument museum that displays both modern and historical pieces, including famous string instruments by Antonio Stradivari, Guarneri del Gesù, and Andrea Amati.
Opened to the public in September 2013, the Violin Museum is housed in the Palazzo dell’Arte, an imposing Fascist era brick construction built in 1941 after a design by architect Carlo Cocchia, renovated after a design by the architectural practice Arkpabi to house the new museum.
To visually reduce the over-imposing height of the museum rooms, typical of many Fascist buildings, the architects designed some “micro-architectures” which accommodate multimedia installation and some of the historical instruments on view.
Collections of bowed string instruments
The museum’s collections of string instruments comprise violins, violas, cellos, and double basses dating from the 16th century to the present. Most classic instruments were made by luthiers from Cremona, a town widely regarded as the world’s capital of violin-making.
The historical collection, one of the most prestigious in the world, includes pieces by famous Italian violin-makers such as Andrea Amati (Charles IX violin, ca. 1566), Nicolò Amati (Hammerle violin, ca. 1658), Antonio Stradivari (violins Clisebee, 1669; Cremonese, 1715; and Vesuvius, 1727; and Stauffer ex Cristiani cello, 1700), and Giuseppe Guarneri “del Gesù” (Stauffer violin, 1734).
The modern and contemporary collection includes bowed string instruments by Italian and international luthiers that, since 1976, have been awarded the first prize in the Triennale Internazionale degli Stumenti ad Arco, one of the world’s most important violin-making competitions.
The permanent exhibition of the Museo del Violino is divided into ten galleries, from early stringed instruments to present-day violin-making.
The exhibition begins with a darkened tunnel in which the origins of the violin are illustrated through artifacts, texts, and videos.
Subsequently, the visitors find a large white box, housing the reconstruction of a violin maker workshop, and sections that present the history of violin-making and depicts how string instruments are made.
The exhibition of historical instruments begins in the so-called Treasure Chest – a gallery in which violins, violas, and cellos built from the 16th to the 18th century are “theatrically” showcased – whose walls are “dressed” in red velvet similarly to the interior of a violin case.
This section also features preeminent instruments by Antonio Stradivari, Andrea Amati, Girolamo Amati, and Giuseppe Guarneri “del Gesù”.
In the following room, original 18th-century documents and working tools from the workshop of Stradivari are on display.
The permanent exhibition continues with a section dedicated to modern violin-making and with the Friends of Stradivari exhibition, which features historical instruments on long-term loan from international institutions and private collectors, including famous violins and cellos by Antonio Stradivari, and Andrea Amati.
The museum reserves particular attention has been reserved for children, for whom small audio-video kiosks, presenting educational content related to music and musical instruments, are disseminated throughout the exhibition.
Program and additional services
The Violin Museum hosts major musical concerts, temporary exhibitions, educational programs, and special events.
The museum’s building, fully accessible to physically impaired people, includes a 500-seat auditorium, a musical instrument restoration center, a bar-restaurant, and a bookshop.
Audio-guides in various languages are available at the ticket desk of the museum.
The museum is sited in Cremona’s historical center, at a short distance from the Cathedral square; an underground car park is located just in front of the building.
Cremona, the main facade of the Violin Museum on Piazza Marconi; photo © Inexhibit
The “Treasure Chest” gallery in which rare historical string instruments are on show; foreground: violin “Charles IX” made in 1566 by Andrea Amati for the Court of King Charles IX of France; photos © Inexhibit
The “Treasure Chest” gallery; foreground: Antonio Stradivari, cello “Stauffer ex Cristiani”, 1700; photo © Inexhibit
The structure which accommodates the “Friends of Stradivari” exhibition of historical string instruments on long-term loan from international museums and cultural institutions; photo © Inexhibit
The wood shell in which people can hear and watch musical performances played with some of the instruments on view in the museums; photos © Inexhibit
The reconstruction of a modern violin-maker workshop; photos © Inexhibit
Objects, documents, and 18th-century working tools from the workshop of Antonio Stradivari are stored into sliding drawers, accessible to the public; photo © Inexhibit
In the exhibition, artifacts alternate with interactive installations; photo © Inexhibit
One of the multimedia kiosks aimed to provide information on violin-making to children; photo © Inexhibit
Violin Museum Cremona, auditorium “Giovanni Arvedi”; photo © Roland Halbe
Cover image: the “Friends of Stradivari” gallery; photo © Inexhibit
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