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Modena Cathedral, Ghirlandina Tower and Piazza Grande Heritage Site since 1997


Cathedral Museum

The Musei del Duomo, situated inside the buffer zone (the area surrounded by the Modena Unesco Site) are of fundamental importance insofar as they are closely linked to the monumental complex on the World Heritage List. In fact, not only does the Museo Lapidario (‘Lapidary Museum’) house numerous sculptural fragments belonging to the Cathedral and the previous buildings on the site, but in the first-floor rooms they display precious works and ornaments testifying to the vitality of the Modenese Church over the course of the centuries.


The Lapidary Museum

Master of the Metopes - The AntipodesThe original set of articles in the Lapidary Museum dates back to the end of the 19th century, featuring sculptural findings unearthed during the excavation work during the restoration of the Cathedral. These findings were added to over the course of the years, with materials that came to light over successive digs. In 1950, the metopes originally placed on the buttresses of the roof were added to the collection, which due to conservation problems, has been removed and replaced by copies. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, the sculptures and reliefs underwent various moves, not being housed definitively until 1956, in a ground-floor hall looking onto the ancient canonical cloisters. In 1994 a new display was arranged, this time following thematic criteria, which made it clear to visitors what the original collocation of the materials would have been. The collection includes sculptures and reliefs from the Roman era (mainly used as filling-in material for the construction of the Cathedral), fragments relative to the previous early-mediaeval cathedrals, findings from the Romanic age, and ancient, medieval and modern inscriptions. In the exhibition itinerary of the first room, the balusters of the previous early-medieval cathedral stand out, finely decorated with intricate motifs, woven patterns, plant-inspired coils and spirals, and the Ark of St Geminianus, a marble casing once used as protection of the sarcophagus of the Saint. The second room, dedicated to sculpture from the days of Wiligelmo and the Campionese masters, houses the above-mentioned series of metopes, constituting eight sculptures portraying monstrous and fantastical beings, all created by a master from Wiligelmo’s workshop; in addition there is one of the column-bearing lions from the Porta dei Principi, which was removed and replaced by a copy following damage suffered during the Second World War.


The Cathedral Museum

Cathedral MuseumOpened in 2000 on the occasion of the Great Jubilee, this museum displays a range of precious artistic-liturgical items dating from the Romanic period up to the 19th century, including ornaments, sculptures, ancient reliquaries, fabrics, paintings and codes, with which the Modenese community adorned the domus Clari Geminiani over the centuries.

Among the most ancient works constituting the treasury of the Cathedral, we might mention the fine altarpiece of St. Geminianus (4th and 11th-12th centuries), the Evangelistary compiled in the scriptorium of Nonantola and characterised by a refined binding in silver and ivory (late 11th – early 12th century), and the staurotheque with gold binding (9th century), probably of Constantinopolitan origin.

In the room reserved for the ancient codes of the Capitulary Archive, the so-called Leges salicae code (late 9th – early 10th century) is displayed; it is an illuminated text containing the decrees of Charlemagne and the legislative codes of the five Germanic populations, as well as the famous Relatio (see specific section).

Special mention must also go to the exceptional cycle of twenty great Flemish tapestries depicting the Story of the Genesis, produced in the 16th century, and used – up until the 1960s – to decorate the Cathedral.