Museum of the Etruscan Academy
The Museum of the Etruscan Academy is housed at the noble floor of the historic Palazzo Casali, erected in the 13th century, later turned to official residence of the family that ruled the signoria of Cortona (1325-1409) and, then in 1411, adapted to be the seat of Florentine captains and commissaries. The museum was created by the initiative of three culturated Cortonese brothers, Marcello, Ridolfino and Filippo Venuti, founders of the Etruscan Academy, who gathered in this seat a rich archaeological collection and an important library, both gifts of their uncle Onofrio Baldelli, for the cultural promotion of the Etruscan Academy.
In the 18th century the original unit was enriched with other archaeological pieces donated by the members of the Academy and owing to the donations of whole collections, as the Egyptian art collection by Mgr. Guido Corbelli (late 19th century), the painting and furniture collection coming from the Tommasi Baldelli House (1933) and the one gathering the important group of paintings by Gino Severini (1883-1966) - donated to his native city by the artist himself - a main representative of the Futurist movement. The Museum exibits a very rich collection of archaeological material and artistic items dating back from the 14th to the 19th century in a hetereogenic manner that is revealed in the arrangement of the items, as there are not spatial divisions between the diverse genres of the exibited material. The variety of the pieces (archaeological finds and important Etruscan, Greek, Roman and Egyptian works of art, besides the paintings, sculptures, mosaic works, fittings, minor arts and coins, collections of medals and engraved gems) is a peculiar and distinguishing character of this museum compared to the other ones in the province of Arezzo: it reflects the history of the collections, intimately bound to the life of the Academy and to the lively world of the erudite and cultural interests of the 18th-century Tuscany.
Among the most important archaeological objects is the Etruscan Chandelier found in 1840 in the neighbourhood of Cortona, a specimen of the finest bronze production of mid-Northern Etruria in the second half of the 4th century, decorated according to a very complex iconography with silenes, harpies and animals figures and propably intended for a sacred building of great importance. Particularly rich is the section including the Etruscan, Italic and Roman bronzes found in the Cortonese area and the one including Etruscan, Greek and Italic ceramic objects, among which the Attic anphora of a tyrrhenian type with the Struggle of Ercules against the lion Nemeo (mid.6th century B.C.) and the grey bucchero anphora, with decorations made with cylindric mould, coming from the Chiusi area (6th century B.C.). Noteworthy is also the series of cinerary urns and the collection of instrumenta - i.e. domestic use objects, of Etruscan and Roman ages, gathered by the Venutis. Among the paintings, mostly by the Tuscan school from the 13th to the 19th century of considerable interest are the works by Bicci di Lorenzo, by the school of Luca Signorelli, by Andrea Commodi, by Cristofano Allori, by Pietro da Cortona, besides a sketch by Giovan Battista Piazzetta preparative for the painting of the church of S.Filippo accomplished for the Cortonese family of the Tommasis (1739-44). The collections of the museum were recently enriched by an extraordinary funerary kit found in the grave of Melone II del Sodo, containing precious golden jewels, among which a fibula and valuable ceramics and bronze instruments set up in a topographic section at the second floor.
HAVING BEEN HERE IN THIS WONDERFUL LITTLE TOWN NESTELED IN THE HILLS FULL OF ERTUSCAN HISTORY IF YOU ARE EVEN IN THE AREA VISIT IT
A LITTLE TOUR OF CORTONA