The Museum consists of the monumental building that houses it, the chapel, the art collections and the historical archive documents displayed in the historic apartment on the first floor.
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PALAZZO OF THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY
Built to a design by the architect Francesco Antonio Picchiatti (1656-1671), the palazzo stands out for its elegant façade, characterized on the ground floor by the portico embellished with statues and the portal that gives access to the chapel.
THE HEART OF PIO MONTE
Also designed by Picchiatti the Chapel, dedicated to the Madonna della Misericordia, has a classic octagonal plan with a slender dome. The harmony of the architecture is embellished by the refined decorative elements of Baroque taste, such as the terracotta floor with polychrome marble inlays, the frontals, the stoups, and the gilded wooden grates of the choirs where in ancient times the musicians accompanied the liturgical celebrations.
THE MONUMENT WITHIN A MONUMENT
On the main altar, the masterpiece by Michelangelo Merisi known as Caravaggio, symbolizes and illustrates the seven works of corporal mercy in a large canvas and dominates the entire scene with its explosive, expressive power.
It is crowned by the seventeenth-century paintings that decorate the six side altars (works by Battistello Caracciolo , Luca Giordano , Fabrizio Santafede , Giovan Bernardo Azzolino , Giovanni Forlì ), further enriching the narrative of the socio-charitable activities that the organization has carried out for over four hundred years.
In the side niches of the Chapel, four red coral sculptures are also permanently exhibited, created in 2019 by Jan Fabre, one of the most representative Flemish artists on the contemporary art scene. Each sculpture has a heart at its base from which elements that recall shapes present in some of the church’s paintings arise and develop upwards: the torch, the lilies, the cross of Christ, and the dove.
On the first floor, which is accessed from the monumental staircase called the “scala regia”, there are rooms created back in the seventeenth century to accommodate the administrative activities of the Institution. Originally accessible only to M
members, it was then opened up to visitors in 1972.
An important collection has been built up over its four centuries, thanks to bequests, legacies and donations. The paintings and furnishings were once exhibited to be sold at auction and thus raise funds for charitable works. Since 1914, the practice of auction sales has been discontinued, as the organization decided to preserve its artistic heritage, augmented during the twentieth century by a number of important donations.
Two important collections are exhibited in the historic apartment: that of Neapolitan paintings from the 15th to the 19th centuries (including Mattia Preti, Massimo Stanzione, Luca Giordano, Andrea Vaccaro, Jusepe de Ribera, Francesco de Mura) and, since 2008, one of contemporary artworks.
The rooms dedicated to Neapolitan painting are embellished by the presence of period furnishings, silver, sacred vestments, objects as well as numerous documents and parchments from the Historical Archives.
The contemporary section collects around 60 works by important artists who have donated to Pio Monte della Misericordia since 2008, amongst them: Francesco Clemente, Gordon Douglas, Jimmie Durham, Mimmo Jodice, Anish Kapoor, Joseph Kosuth, Jannis Kounellis, Hermann Nitsch, Mimmo Paladino, Michal Rovner, Giberto Zorio and many others. To the important exhibit of Cavaraggio’s “Sette Opere per la Misericordia”, which constitutes the largest nucleus of donations, have been added many others, promoted by independent curators or by associations such as ART1307 which have supported the donation of works by other international and Neapolitan artists.
2023 is dedicated to celebrating the 50th anniversary of the opening of the picture gallery to the public which until 1972 was accessible only to members of Pio Monte della Misericordia. Thus, 2023 begins a new and fundamental phase of the museum to be defined, understood and experienced as an inclusive place.
The theme of the events chosen for this year is ” Travel ” in its countless cultural and social facets.
Events (conferences, exhibitions, performances, presentations of volumes as first works and much more) are planned for the coming months.
Special museum activities:
For children : an initiative aimed at children ages 5-11 is organized one weekend a month, which aims to make them active protagonists in discovering the museum.
For the social sector : once a month (some months of greater attendance are excluded) a Solidarity Guided Tour is organized in favor of a non-profit organizations in one of the areas of the works of Pio Monte della Misericordia.
2) Antechamber I
3) Antechamber II
4) Governors’ chambers
5) Office of the old Government 6
6) Office of the superintendent
7) Passetto I
8) Passetto II
9) Hall of the choir
10) Hall of the Government
11) Contemporary Hall