National Gallery in the Palazzo della Pilotta

Place: Parma, piazza della Pilotta

Authors: Guido Canali, Italo Lupi

Chronology: 1968 | 1991

Itinerary: Treasure hunt

Use: Musem

The restructuring of the incomplete Farnesian complex of Pilotta – severely damaged in part by the bombings of 1944 – took almost twenty years. The Guido Canali design for the National Gallery concerned the Farnese Theatre, from which the museum tour now originates, and the south, west and north wings of the complex, as well as the Sala della Rocchetta and the nineteenth-century rooms of Maria Luigia of Austria.

In 1979, the north wing of the Palace, originally occupied by the coach house and barn and, more recently, used for military purposes, hosted the temporary exhibition “Art in Parma from the French to the Bourbons.” This decisively accelerated the renovation of the National Gallery. On that occasion, an outfitting was planned. This was confirmed in the definitive arrangement of the museum itinerary. The work was to be based on a large reticular structure made with the Dalmine tube-joint system that acts as a support for the panels on which the works are placed at the lower level, as well as the upper level floor.

The Farnesian barn was not originally plastered. This suggested the removal of the plaster the military had later added, allowing recovery of the texture and grain of the 17th century walls. Two long longitudinal skylights were inserted along the roof, ensuring a diffused light from a central point above.

The visit to the Gallery starts at the Farnese Theatre and follows a complex route that first crosses the back of the theatre, then the west wing, the Sala del Torrente and the former hayloft (works by Antelami, Agnolo Gaddi, Beato Angelico, Cima da Conegliano, Leonardo, Correggio, Parmigianino, Hans Holbein, El Greco, the Carracci, Guercino, Tiepolo and Canaletto). The itinerary continues in the nineteenth-century halls with the exhibition of works from the Bourbons and Maria Luigia and ends in the rooms of the former Rocchetta where the works of Correggio and Parmigianino are housed.

Text by Francesca Castelli
Photos by Emanuele Piccardo