The collections of the city of Fano are housed in the monumental Malatesta Palace, commissioned by Pandolfo III Malatesta and built in the early 15th century. Visitors enter the structure from the square, Piazza XX Settembre, through the old Borgia-Cybo Arch and the entrance hall. Before moving along the stairs, you can admire the beautiful Malatesta courtyard opposite the palace.
There are sixteen rooms to visit, divided into four sections: the Archaeological Section, the Ceramics Section, the Numismatics Section, and the Pinacoteca, housed in a number of small rooms, the Sala del Caminetto, the Sala Grande, the Sala del Lavabo (divided into two small spaces) and the Sala Morganti.
Artworks from a number of different periods are displayed in the museum: prehistory and proto-history, Roman times (when Fano was known as Fanum Fortunae), the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries (with a beautiful collection of paintings from the Bolognese, the Venetian, the Roman and the local schools) as well as contemporary art.
The collection was first created in the 18th century and consisted of the archaeological finds discovered in the city and the surrounding area, as well as works coming from local churches and acquired after the abolition of religious congregations, and other works bequeathed or donated over time to the museum.
The former church of San Domenico, now property of the Cassa di Risparmio di Fano Foundation, has been turned into a gallery of sacred paintings. The building has been restructured several times and now it is a single building containing the medieval church, the late Baroque altars and Gasparoli’s 17th-century innovations.
The Pinacoteca houses the famous altarpiece by Guercino, The Marriage of the Virgin, as well as paintings on canvas by Simone Cantarini and Sebastiano Ceccarini, Simone de Magistris, Giovan Francesco Guerrieri, Federico Barocci, Palma il Giovane, Federico Zuccari and other important 17th century painters.
Furthermore, during the restoration, frescoes from the 14th and the 15th centuries were discovered. Behind a Baroque altar, a beautiful fresco was found, divided into parts with a clear didactic purpose, aiming to educate the faithful about the events of the Bible through a method “by images” which is somewhat reminiscent of contemporary comics. The fresco, narrating the life of St John the Baptist, shows the consummate skill of a great master who succeeded, with unique elegance and clarity of expression, in combining the figurative efficacy of the Middle Ages with the beauty of Renaissance stylistic canons. Therefore some attribute it to Ottaviano Nelli, a late Gothic painter from Gubbio, who worked in Umbria and Marche.
The paintings collection is housed in the premises of the Cassa di Risparmio di Fano Foundation, at the Malatesta Palace. The first floor houses the ‘room of the portraits’, which includes thirteen paintings, seven of which are by Carlo Magini, three by Sebastiano Ceccarini and his workshop, one by Jacob Ferdinand Vouet and two by unknown artists.On the first floor there is also a ‘room of still lifes’ with fourteen paintings, thirteen of which are by Carlo Magini and one by Sebastiano Ceccarini’s workshop. This collection of artworks is the world’s largest collection of still lifes by Carlo Magini.
The Cassa di Risparmio di Fano Foundation purchased and restored the historical Bracci Pagani Palace (Corso Matteotti 97) to turn it into a cultural and artistic centre. Some rooms of the palace house temporary exhibitions and collections of books, whereas the second floor has been turned into a Museum of Natural Sciences, which is something the city of Fano never previously had.
The collection includes over 5,000 items, fossils and minerals donated both by the Circolo Castellani and by private citizens. Around 2,000 of them have been collected in the past few decades by science teachers and experts, and will be exhibited in the museum.
The scientific and operational management has been carried out by the cultural circle ‘G. Castellani’ from Fano, thanks to the work of volunteers who believe in the importance of science education.
The new museum includes a section dedicated to palaeontology, with a chronology presenting the evolution of life on the earth in a simple and straightforward way, and an exhibition of specialist collections. Another area is dedicated to malacology, where the evolution of sea life, from the remote past to the present, is shown.
There are also twenty glass cases containing minerals, both from the local area and from other parts of the world.
Most of the works housed here are either property of the Diocese, come from unused churches, or have been lent under an extended loan agreement. The museum, located in the former Regional Pontifical Seminar, is divided into two sections: the lapidarium and the museum collection. The former includes ornamental and figurative epigraphs, and a collection of coats of arms of former bishops of Fano.
The Bagnaresi Ethnic Museum is located in the premises of the Cassa di Risparmio di Fano Foundation, at the Malatesta Palace. It is an international ethnic museum, created by Maria Teresa Bagnaresi, a woman who donated her precious collection of artworks and craft objects of multiethnic interest that she had collected over a time span of forty years in all continents, thus representing a rich variety of cultures and traditions.
Most of the works on display are craft objects from the Far East and Africa, but there are works from Australia, the Americas and also Europe. There are over 2,600 objects on display: masks, cribs, statues, boxes, items of ivory, chinaware, lacquerware, swords, stone objects, jewels, objects made of silver, bronze and copper, canes, plates, baskets, crates etc.
The Museum of the Flaminian Way, which will soon be opened in the church of San Michele Arcangelo, near the Augustan Arch, is a sort of ‘virtual gateway’ to the area that was located along the old Roman consular way. The museum is the result of a project, the Evolved Cultural District ‘Flaminia Next One’, aiming to create a series of integrated services for the promotion of the area. The museum narrates the story of the Flaminian Way as an integral part of local history. It also contains high-tech multimedia tools, made by the University of Ancona (Università Politecnica delle Marche), which provide art historical information, amazing images and immersive experiences. A brand new system of ‘Museum Visitors Behaviour Analysis’ will observe the visitors’ patterns of behaviour both in quantitative terms (how many people will access the structure) and in qualitative terms (what they will do and what they will appreciate the most).