Within the framework of this noble palazzo dating back to 1871, a single 3,000 m2 building now extends over seven floors, two of which are underground, all redolent of history. The architectural interventions primarily concerned the activities preparatory to the excavations leading up to the construction of the two new underground floors, with an underground museum - the most striking and characterful elements of which are the pietra serena covered cupolas – destined to house the Foundation’s Etruscan collection, the original nucleus of the project, which will also feature “contaminations” between the archaeology of this particular civilisation and works from other eras and cultures. Even today, alongside findings such as the Head of Achelous (5-6th century B.C.), we find a sculpture of the Head of Medusa by Arturo Martini (1930); while jostling alongside votive offerings, funeral urns, vases and small Etruscan bronzes are contemporary works by William Kentridge, Lucio Fontana, Arturo Martini and Picasso.
The underground space, lined entirely with stone laid horizontally on stratified levels and characterised by sinusoidal shapes that create continuity between the areas, is accessed through the main entrance to the palazzo. A staircase carved out of pietra serena, a material extracted from Tuscan-Emilian quarries, leads to the exhibition space, made up of three circular and one elliptical room. This dimly-lit space, with its sacred and meditative feel, is clad in 30,000 stone ashlar blocks, designed one by one and carved and mounted, making for a fluid, enchanting space. The decision to use a single stone, pietra serena, represents the story of a material extracted from the deep Firenzuola quarries, giving the feel of a space carved within the quarries themselves.
From warriors to our relationship with nature, from beauty to encounters with the Gods, the exhibition takes us on a journey through art and architecture, form and matter, city and civilisation. “Just because it’s an underground museum doesn’t mean it has to be a necropolis. On entering, one finds oneself immersed in a sort of city, because the Etruscans practised real methods of urbanisation: the concept of the city as we know it today was invented by the Etruscans, and then inherited and reworked by the Romans,” said Giovanna Forlanelli, President of the Foundation.