After three years of restoration, beginning in November the 17th-century palace in the heart of Bergamo will finally be open to visitors in its entirety.
Palazzo Moroni finally opens its doors wide. After the opening of the gardens and the orchard in June 2020 and that of four frescoed rooms in September 2021, from November 2023 the entire Bergamo palace will be open to visitors. On this occasion, five new rooms – Yellow Room, Pink Room, Blue Room, Chinese Parlour and Turkish Room – and the mezzanine, divided between the palace’s old kitchen and the flat used by Count Moroni, the last inhabitant of the mansion, will be inaugurated.
Restoration work on Palazzo Moroni began in 2020, and on June 27th and 28th on the occasion of the FAI Open Days, FAI opened the gardens and the orchard: an extraordinary event, created as a tribute to Bergamo, one of the Italian cities most affected by Covid-19. After a year, work was completed on the oldest part of the palazzo, characterized by 17th-century frescoes whose subjects give their names to the rooms: the Hall of the Golden Age, the Hall of the Giants, the Hall of Hercules and the Hall of Jerusalem Delivered. These rooms, as well as the grand staircase, were opened to the public on 16 September 2021, as part of the celebrations for the 500th anniversary of the birth of Giovanni Battista Moroni.
At the end of 2022, restoration work began on the last five rooms, the result of structural changes that affected the Palazzo around 1838, on the occasion of Alessandro Moroni’s marriage to the Milanese noblewoman Giulia Resta. The layout of these spaces, more intimate and cosy than the 17th-century ones, is dominated by precious silks, Oriental and French ceramics, Chinese lacquered and Empire-style furniture, and fresco decorations that reproduce trompe-l’oeil stuccoes and alternate with fanciful subjects typical of the classical and exotic world.
In agreement with the competent Superintendency, a restoration plan was initiated involving the art collections in these rooms. Paintings, objects, and furniture were cleaned, the stucco and gilding consolidated, and the metal and wooden parts overhauled. The historical lighting points were restored, adapted and brought up to standard together with the entire electrical system of the Palace. More significant work, carried out both on site and in the workshop, concerned the textiles – three rooms out of five feature antique silk tapestries from the Caserta factory and upholstered furniture – and was carried out in cooperation with the La Venaria Reale Conservation and Restoration Centre. Finally, the palace’s historical clocks were overhauled and restored in both their cases and mechanical parts, so that they can once again strike the hours regularly.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Despite the numerous works in progress, Palazzo Moroni has always been open to the public, there has even been an exhibition in the recently completed Ballroom; to date, admissions to the site have increased by 63% vs 2022.
The decision to carry out the works while the property was open to public, in order to ensure the visibility of the Palazzo in the year of Bergamo Brescia Italian Capital of Culture, made the site activities much more complicated. Over the past two years, FAI’s Restoration and Conservation Office, together with local consultants and workers, has coordinated and supervised numerous works, such as the securing of almost forty historic wooden window and door frames, both internal and external, the creation of a complex network of installations, carefully concealed and harmonised with the delicate context, the re-functionalisation of over 260 square metres of service areas and, last but not least, the restoration of the gardens of the second and third terraces, where the historic design of the spaces has been enhanced and adapted to the current needs of use and visit to the Palazzo.
THE OTHER ‘CONSTRUCTION SITE’
As is always the case in the Foundation’s projects, the restoration site was accompanied by a ‘knowledge site’. An initial study of the documents in the Moroni family archives, now kept by the Fondazione Museo di Palazzo Moroni, made it possible to investigate in depth the decorative, collecting and exhibition history of the Palazzo, to get to know the protagonists and to reconstruct the extension and use of the garden and the orchard. The most significant results of this research will form the basis of the immersive video story, dedicated to the history of the Moroni family and its relationship with the territory, projected on the walls of the historic kitchen, which will thus be reused and enhanced by FAI.