The Regional Museum of Messina is probably one of the most underrated places in Messina. A little far off the city center, but just a few minutes away by tram from the very popular Cathedral and Bell Tower, the Regional Museum of Messina has many hidden treasures that will leave you completely astonished. If you’re an art lover and wondering in Messina what to do and what to see, the Regional Museum of Messina will satisfy all your art cravings.
Regional Museum of Messina: an underrated art display
The Regional Museum of Messina, inaugurated in 1806 has always been a representation of the cultural and artistic richness of the city, and especially after the earthquake of 1908 that destroyed the city, it has preserved many remaining old buildings. Messina Museum was founded by Accademia Peloritana dei Pericolanti as a way to save and protect the art.
It started off with a couple of private collections and some paintings of the Messinian Senate and today it owns many artworks from famous artists such as Francesco Laurana, Mario Minniti, Domenico Gagini, Caravaggio and Antonello da Messina. It holds some of the city’s most important and famous artworks and when searching in Messina what to do, it should always be one of the first choices.
The Regional Museum of Messina, known by locals as Mume Messina, is actually the biggest museum in Southern Italy, with its 4.160 mq and 7.855 pieces (of which 750 are exposed). But nevertheless, it is today one of the most underrated places in the city and is undoubtedly a must-see for art lovers.
Messina Museum changed location many times during history and from 2017, after the inauguration of the new complex, is situated nearby the old Barbera-Mellinghoff pinning mill that is now used for temporary exhibitions. The permanent exhibition, on the other hand, situated in the new building, is arranged to lead the visitors through a time journey.
The pieces of different disciplines, from paintings to architectural remains are displayed in chronological order, allowing the viewer to really appreciate and dive into every century’s artistic characteristics. This arrangement in the Regional Museum of Messina, not only gives us the illusion of changing decade every few steps, but also allow us to enjoy those pieces that are not worldwide famous and give them the same importance, in an attempt to elevate them and make the public understand the true greatness of Sicilian Art.
When in Messina art lovers can’t miss a tour of the historic center with the Regional Museum, combining two of the most important highlight of the city.
Let’s discover some of the treasures the Regional Museum of Messina has to offer!
Messina Museum and its treasures
The Mume Messina holds pieces from some of the most important Italian and Sicilian Artists ever existed. Caravaggio, Antonello da Messina, Domenico Gagini and Francesco Laurana are only some of them. But inside Messina Museum you’ll not only be able to find worldwide famous pieces but also other fine artworks, and if you’re an art lover it is really something to look forward to.
In Mume Messina you’ll have the chance to enjoy beautiful byzantine capitals decorated with acanthus leaves, palms and geometrical compositions, reconstructed portals that were part of the old Messana, sacred furnishings and many original sculptures. Between them one particularly stands out, the Neptune fountain. While a copy stands in front of Messina’s Palace of the Prefecture and faces the ocean, dominating the wild waters of the strait, the original is preserved in the museum.
But whether you’re an art lover or not the Regional Museum of Messina owns pieces that anyone would enjoy and are really a must-see when wondering in Messina what to do. Messina Museum displays a couple of Caravaggio paintings, The Adoration of the Sheperds and the Raising of Lazarus, that were both painted in 1609 exactly one year before the artist’s death.
The two paintings perfectly exemplify Caravaggio’s great understanding of light, its innovative use of chiaroscuro and colours and even more so, the theatricality of the scene, that captures the emotion of the moment. A friend and probably lover of his, Mario Minniti, is also displayed in Mume Messina. In his paintings such as The Widow of Nain and Beheading of St John The Baptist, Caravaggio’s influence is very profound, and again the use of chiaroscuro and the intensity of the scene are the true protagonists of the pieces
And if Caravaggio and Minniti are not enough for your art cravings, Antonello da Messina with his San Gregorio Polypthyc and Blessing Virgin Mary with Child and a Franciscan are something you won’t have a chance to enjoy elsewhere. Painted in the later years of the artist are two iconic pieces, that, even though the poor state, are still perfect examples of how the Flemish and Renaissance art influenced Antonello da Messina, and how his deeper understanding of human form and psychology lead him to such perfect exemplifications of reality.
At last but not least, two great sculptors of the XV century: Francesco Laurana and Antonello Gagini, whose works are displayed in Messina Museum. Two beautiful sculptures representing Mother Mary with Baby Jesus allow us to really appreciate these two great artists.
The two pieces, are similar under many aspects such as the softness of the skin and the hinted smiles, but the differences are what really makes the two artworks stand out as pieces of their own, the expression of Mary’s eyes, the position of Baby Jesus’ hands and the draping of the cloths are all elements that give the viewer completely different characterisation of the same iconic image. At the same time the two sculptures are able to elicit a pure sense of beauty in our minds.
So, art lovers and travellers, locals and foreigners, for whatever reason you find yourself in the magnificent city over the strait, in this strip of land that has seen and lived for so many years and has been filled with so much history and art, the Regional Museum of Messina, with its pieces that stretch in a period of time of over a millennium, from the greatest sculptures and paintings to the smallest architectural remains, still represents a way to discover Messina and travel through time into its artistic evolution. And when you’ll be visiting Messina what to do if not a tour through art and time?