Museo del Violino in Cremona, Italy - A Visit December 28 2021
Exterior View of Museo del Violino, Cremona, Italy
Officially opened to the public on 15 September 2013, we were pleased to visit this historical museum, here we share more about it.
We were amazed at the stunning craftsmanship of the great Italian masters like Stradivari, Guarneri and Amati, among many others, and this was definitely the highlight of the year for us.
Cremona has been the cultural and historical centre of the great Italian violin-making tradition since the time of Andrea Amati in the 1500s. Carrying forward this spirit of excellence and quality over 5 centuries later, it comes as no surprise that Cremona was chosen for the construction and opening of the Museo del Violino.
Museo del Violino Entrance
The unique capacity to make bowed string instruments of refined workmanship is at the heart of the Cremona’s identity - an identity that has followed the tradition of fine artisanal excellence, dating back to the late Renaissance and early centuries of the modern age, and reached us today intact.
The Museo del Violino is housed in the redeveloped Palazzo dell'Arte, a building that was designed in 1941 by the architect Carlo Cocchia and brought back to its former splendour thanks to the generous intervention of Fondazione Arvedi-Buschini.
[Image] A modern monument to violin outside Museo del Violino
The backbone of the Museo del Violino is the “Fondazione Museo del Violino Antonio Stradivari” (known formerly as the Ente Triennale) which has been protecting and promoting the value of classic and contemporary violin making in Cremona, through competitions, exhibitions, conferences, publications, congresses and concerts.
Since 1976, the “Fondazione Museo del Violino Antonio Stradivari” has organised the “Antonio Stradivari” International Triennial Competition, often known as the Olympics of Violin Making, a prestigious opportunity for the world’s best instrument makers to compare their work.
Since 2009, the foundation has also promoted the “friends of Stradivari” project, an international network linking all those who own, study, use or simply love instruments from Cremona’s classic violin-making tradition.
The Museo del Violino covers an impressive area of 6500 m2 with a spectacular 450-seat auditorium built using the most modern and innovative acoustic techniques. It also includes a “treasure chest” displaying the musical instruments from the Stradivarian collection, libraries, conference rooms, multimedia and interactive areas, laboratories for students, a bookshop and café and dining facilities.
[Image] "The Soul of Music" -Sculpture by Jaume Plensa, in the gardens of the Museo del Violino
The Palazzo dell'Arte building also houses the Cremona campus of the Politecnico di Milano, with research facilities including laboratories and an anechoic chamber. The Museo del Violino clearly represents the deep connection established between Cremona and the art of making violins, while acting as an important structure for the city that is used as a Museum, Auditorium and Research Centre.
Step-by-step, the museum describes everything that rotates around the life of the violin. The visit begins with the origins of the instrument in the first room, then moves on to the luthier's workshop, where the violin is born, where you can smell the scent of resin and wood.
Internal view of one of the exposition rooms
The tour continues with a discussion of the diffusion of the violin in a listening room, where you will find a map of the world illustrating how this instrument made its way around the globe.
In the fourth room the virtual books speak of Cremona's school of classical music and on a map of Cremona from the Stradivari era you can see the distribution of the shops, while the treasures of the city's master craftsmen are housed in the next room, with Stradivarian relics in adjacent rooms.
Museo del Violino - Another exposition room
What’s a star-studded museum without a list of famous names who have performed there? Musical giants such as violinists Renaud Capuçon, Arabella Steinbacher, Daniel Dodds and Dan Zhu were among the soloists featured, along with the Lucerne Festival Strings, the Amati String Trio, and the Stradivari and Guadagnini quartets.
All performances (and those to come in future) took place in the museum's 450-seat auditorium, which was designed in collaboration with Yasuhisa Toyota, the acoustics engineer whose previous projects have included the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.
Since its inception in 2013, the museum has seen an incredible number of valuable and historical stringed instruments walking through its doors - some permanently stationed there on exhibit behind the glass. The famed Chi-Mei Culture Foundation in Taiwan, one of the best collections in the world has also loaned instruments to the Museo del Violino.
Museo del Violino - Internal View
The list of violins include the c.1566 Andrea Amati violin Carlo IX”, 1615 Girolamo Amati viola “Stauffer”, c.1658 Nicolò violin “Hammerle”, 1669 Antonio Stradivari violin “Clisbee”, 1715 Antonio Stradivari violin “Il Cremonese”, 1727 Antonio Stradivari violin “ and the 1734 Giuseppe Guarneri “del Gesù” violin “Stauffer”.
It is impossible to put a value on these priceless instruments being housed in the museum as each masterpiece is on average worth more than USD 12 million.
The only way that these instruments could ever be performed on by accomplished individuals would be through generous loans by foundations or sponsors as these prices would definitely not be affordable for the average musician.
Internal view of one of the rooms at Museo del Violino
The museum brings together Cremona's important collections of classical violins but also includes collections of instruments by 19th-20th century masters. As the visit comes to an end, the Violin Museum presents contemporary violin makers, as seen in the Permanent Collection of Contemporary Violin Making.
The new-making instruments, no less phenomenal in making, appearance and sound, have been carefully handcrafted by the winners of the last 13 editions of the Triennale violin making competition and represent the epitome of modern day violin making.
The collection also explores how the modern world has joined the world of the violin with the promotion of the friends of Stradivari network. The last room is dedicated to the violin's role in films.
Contemporary violins, customized and decorated
There has always been the age old question of whether old instruments are superior, or whether that of their contemporary counterparts are better. There are no hard and fast rules but from a layman’s point of view when one steps into the Museo del Violino, one is immediately taken aback by the beauty and elegance of the instruments crafted by the old Italian masters, whose traditions in violin making have been passed down from generation to generation.
Modern instruments are more resistant to temperature and humidity changes while old instruments are more susceptible to cracks and damages due to humidity and temperature changes. When it comes to sound, you’ll have to be the judge as it is one of the most subjective topics. You can experience the sound of a Stradivari in the museum as well as that of modern violins.
Thanks to its multimedia approach, the Violin Museum offers something for everyone, of all ages, experts or novices, since it captures the visitor's attention by stimulating their senses and emotions.
It is a place that we will remember forever and one that we would highly encourage you to visit!
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