Museo della storia di Bologna – Palazzo Pepoli

via Castiglione 8, Bologna
Emilia Romagna, Italy
Phone: +39 051 19936370
closed on: open daily
Museum Type: History / City

Opened in 2012 and housed in the medieval Palazzo Piepoli, the Museo della Storia di Bologna (Museum of the history of Bologna) is an institution focused on the long history of one of the oldest Italian cities. The museum features a quite large permanent exhibition, located in 35 main rooms and three additional multimedia spaces. A full visit to the museum may take two hours or more.
The museum also contains educational spaces, a restaurant, and a book & gift shop.

Above: The 14th-century Palazzo Pepoli in Bologna, home to the museum of the history of the city. Photo © Riccardo Bianchini / Inexhibit.

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The architecture of the museum combines historic structures dating back to the Middle Ages and modern ones, designed by Italian architect Mario Bellini.

A transparent volume, placed inside the covered hall that once was the Palace courtyard, acts both as a connection space between the two levels of the museum and an additional exhibition space where the public can also interact with a multimedia installation that illustrates the history of the famous University of Bologna which, founded in the 11th century, is widely regarded as the world’s oldest university still in operation.

The museum’s permanent exhibition, which presents the history of Bologna from the Etruscan age to the present day, consists of a very diverse set of elements: multimedia exhibits, graphic panels, archaeological findings, and artworks – including paintings by the Carracci family, Guercino, Giacomo Balla, and Tommaso Marinetti and sculptures by Lucio Fontana and Arturo Martini. among others.



The permanent exhibition also features a number of remarkable Mannerist and Baroque paintings, mostly dating to the 16th and 17th centuries, the “golden age” of Bolognese art.

Designed by architect Mario Bellini and graphic designer Italo Lupi, the Museum of the History Of Bologna, together with “traditional” exhibition rooms, also features a number of visually inventive spaces, such as that illustrating the coronation in Bologna of Emperor Charles V, a room with a reconstruction of a 19th-century private library, and the gallery dedicated to 20th-century advertising graphics.

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Three installations focused on ancient battles, bookmaking, and vintage advertising respectively.

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The interactive installation, entitled “Parlano i Bolognesi” (Bolognese people talk), through which it is possible to hear several citizens of Bologna speak about their city (in Italian).

Yet, the most impressive feature of the museum is possibly a multimedia gallery describing the history of the artificial waterways that once provided Bologna with the water required for its workshops and manufacturing plants and particularly, from the 13th century onward, for the many silk factories located in the city. The room is shaped like a vaulted canal, a glowing wireframe-like texture gives the ambient a fascinating atmosphere. On the pavement, an interactive projection simulates a water flow and reacts to the visitor’s movements, while the side walls are actually mirrors on which various videos, depicting the history of Bologna’s canals, are projected on rotation.

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An immersive installation presents the history of Bologna’s waterways.

At the end of the exhibition, an imposing domed room, called Culture Hall, houses twelve terracotta busts, dating back to the 17th century, portraying various women who have played a prominent role in Bologna’s history.

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All photographs © Riccardo Bianchini / Inexhibit.

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