A one-of-a-kind, the International Museum of Ceramics in Faenza, a UNESCO symbol of peace, recomposes the millennial history of a noble art.
Faenza is a città d'arte in the province of Ravenna, full of places to see and delicacies to taste. Here we tell you about the art that has made it famous thanks to the skills of its artisans: ceramics.
Its MIC - Museo Internazionale della Ceramica (International Museum of Ceramics) is a true excellence recognised worldwide, with exquisite pieces from all over the globe. UNESCO declared it a Monument Witness to a Culture of Peace in 2000. Find more about this incredible place.
The International Museum of Ceramics in Faenza, UNESCO Symbol of Peace since 2000
A unique museum collecting 60,000 works expressing the noble art of ceramics. MIC, the International Museum of Ceramics, encompasses over 15,000 square metres with a long, articulated and never-trivial itinerary full of fascination.
It starts from 4000 B.C. to the present day, passing from the refinement of Renaissance majolica to 20th-century design, with signatures by Picasso, Matisse, Chagall, Legér, Dalì, Burri and Fontana.
The first exhibition was set up in the former convent of San Maglorio during the celebrations for the 300th anniversary of Evangelista Torricelli's birthday (the inventor of the barometer was a Faenza native) in 1908. The initiative gave international prestige to an art that had been part of Faenza's cultural fabric for centuries. The Italian and European ceramics exhibited for the occasion formed the first nucleus of the new museum.
Today, its rich collection is the largest in the world. An extraordinary artistic heritage that takes the visitor on a journey through centuries, places and atmospheres as diverse as they are astonishing in terms of the value and breadth of artefacts on display.
But that is not all. The museum's library contains around 68,000 volumes and is a valuable reference point for scholars, artists and students. The Ceramic Photo Library, on the other hand, brings together a remarkable photographic archive of both public and private ceramic collections from all over the world.
The exhibition is divided into more macro areas. It starts on the ground floor with ceramics from the Great Civilisations representing the Far and Near East, pre-Columbian cultures, the classical world, ancient Egypt and Islam. The first floor hosts a collection of Faenza works from the Middle Ages to the Baroque, including the so-called "whites" and the production of the Ferniani Factory. It continues with a large and constantly updated selection of 20th-century Italian and European ceramics from the 16th to the 20th century. The section dedicated to popular and devotional ceramics closes the tour.
There is also a series of large installations at the entrance and in the garden by prestigious names of contemporary and 20th-century art: Alberto Burri, Mimmo Paladino, Carlo Zauli, Pietro Melandri, Franz Stähler, Pino Spagnulo and Luigi Ontani.
Why the International Museum of Ceramics in Faenza is a UNESCO site
In 2000, UNESCO included the International Ceramic Museum of Faenza in the Monuments Witnesses to a Culture of Peace list.
The MIC, which has always been committed to the acquisition, conservation and promotion of ceramic art, is an international reference point.
Its history, which began at the beginning of the 20th century thanks to its founder Gaetano Ballardini, the link with the city that hosts it and that already in its name contains a reference to the art of majolica, the exhibitions and the many events it has promoted, have led UNESCO to recognise it as an expression of ceramic art in the world.
It's a meaningful legacy that the MIC continues to carry, keeping faith with the spirit of its statute and its commitment to collect and arrange Italian and foreign ceramic production systematically.
Since 1932, the museum has also organised the International Competition 'Faenza Prize'. This event shines a spotlight on the creative universe around ceramics and contributes to its enhancement, promotion and renewal.
The ceramics of Faenza
A story (also) of love imprinted on many façades, balconies, and doorways that tells of the long, ancient bond between Faenza and the art that has made it famous throughout the world: ceramics. A link declared since the place name, faïance in French, faience in English.
The manufacture of ceramics in Faenza is a long-standing affair, with the first factories dating back to the 1st century B.C. This art developed thanks to the clays in the Lamone river, which, when properly used, took on increasingly complex shapes.
During the Renaissance, local production became increasingly popular also in the rest of Europe. Back then, Faenza artefacts started to be adorned with the typical peacock feather eyes and female figures, the so-called 'belle donne'.
In the second half of the 16th century, refined, shiny white majolica, 'I Bianchi di Faenza', made their entrance.
Workshops scattered throughout the town are where this tradition of beauty and craftsmanship proudly shows up. Visiting them is discovering an essential piece of the city's history.
In addition to the MIC, Faenza hosts Argillà Italia. This biennial ceramics festival attracts artists and collectors from all over the world for its exhibition market along the centre streets.
Let's know Faenza: a stroll around the town
Located halfway between Bologna and Rimini, Faenza is a splendid art city featuring a historic centre full of monuments and points of interest that reflect its rich medieval, Renaissance and neoclassical past.
In addition to the famous majolica tiles, the many artisan workshops and the International Museum of Ceramics, this corner of Romagna offers glimpses to be framed and rewarding and enjoyable experiences.
Landmarks of the town, linked by Corso Mazzini and Corso Saffi, Piazza della Libertà and Piazza del Popolo form a sort of urban unicum, almost as if they were an ample, continuous open-air space.
Here you'll find some of Faenza's most representative civil and religious buildings: the medieval Palazzo del Podestà and Palazzo Manfredi, the cathedral of San Pietro Apostolo, the baroque Fontana Maggiore, the elegant Portico degli Orefici.
The streets all around reveal precious architecture, luxury residences and noble palaces. Standing out among them all is Palazzo Milzetti, one of the finest examples of the Neoclassical style in Emilia Romagna and home, not surprisingly, to the National Museum of the Neoclassical Age in Romagna. It is striking for the sumptuous decorations of its rooms and the large garden with its fairy-tale rustic hut.