The Museo e Real Bosco de Capodimonte, on the heights of Naples, is one of the largest collections in Italy. But, despite its wealth, it remains less well known than the Uffizi in Florence or the Accademia in Venice. To put the establishment in the foreground, the director, Sylvain Bellenger, is undertaking a large-scale renovation project. During the closure necessary for the works, an “anthology” of the masterpieces it contains circulates. First stop: the Louvre, for seven months.
Capodimonte’s masterpieces are in the Louvre while the museum is being renovated. What would you like to change?
Many things. The roofs will be opened to place photovoltaic panels, which will produce 91% of our electricity consumption and a saving of 1 million euros per year. Air conditioning will be installed on all floors and the lighting redone. The rooms devoted to contemporary art and the reception areas will be taken over. All these spaces will therefore be inaccessible. And these structural projects go hand in hand with a restoration campaign commensurate with our collections: Capodimonte has kept 49,000 works… So we are lending seventy of our most important works to the Louvre so that they remain visible. Then they will go to the Venaria Reale, in Turin, and then return to Naples.
These works are the culmination of a long transformation of the museum, which you have been leading since 2015…
It has exceptional collections, known to specialists, but less so to tourists who come to Naples, who are more and more numerous today. They go to Pompeii, Herculaneum and Caserta. Rarer are those who go up to Capodimonte. So you have to convince them. Since 2015, I have worked on three points. First the park, which is the largest urban garden in the country: 134 hectares with nineteen buildings inside. It was abandoned and we restored its beauty, while making it a safe place. Then, the exhibitions: thirty-two in eight years, large and small. And, in the light of these, a general reflection: how to present these collections in the XXIe century, by introducing all the conveniences of digitization, but also by removing part of the collections of applied arts, which are immense, from the reserves.
We thus have 7,000 porcelains, because the royal porcelain factory was created in the 18th century.e century by Charles of Bourbon, at the same time as the independent kingdom of Naples. However, this royal side had disappeared from the museum. The palace remained a private residence of the Savoy family until 1947 and, when it became a museum in 1957, the monarchical signs were erased, for political reasons that can be understood in the context of the time. Today it is possible to reaffirm this dimension and give back to Capodimonte all of its history.
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