Museum of Madness

In Lucca, a visionary and disturbing journey showing the connections between mental illness and creativity in art

From 27 February 2019 to 18 August 2019

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From February 27 to August 18 2019 the rooms of the Ex Cavallerizza in Lucca will house an exhibition on the relationship between art and mental illness, curated by Vittorio Sgarbi and titled the Museum of Madness. The original exhibition was showcased for the first time at the Venice Biennale in 2011, after which the 'itinerary of Madness' in Italy was hosted in additional exhibitions in Matera, Mantua, Catania and Salò before the Lucca art exhibit. Here it will be housed at the Lucca Ex Cavallerizza, a building from the 1800s that served as a training riding center for the students of the Real Collegio and that, following renovation works, has been transformed into an amazing exhibition center. The spacious complex is well suited to accommodate different Lucca events and is located near the historical center and the old walls and is therefore easily accessible by all means of transportation.

The Vittorio Sgarbi exhibition offers visitors, as suggested by the exhibition title, a visionary and disturbing journey through the alienations and mental disorders of several artists where insanity is inextricably linked to creativity. The Museo della Follia in Lucca houses masterpieces by internationally renowned artists such as Goya, Lega, Mancini and Signorini. The large exhibition area of Cavallerizza (1,000 sqm) will host, in fact, 200 works arranged as paintings, sculptures, photographs and installations, both interactive and multimedia. One example is the original bedroom of the writer and psychiatrist Mario Tobino, transferred here from the Maggiano mental hospital in its entirety. As was the case with past exhibits in Lucca, local artists – this time from Tuscany - will also be featured. Additionally, you will also see a section dedicated to objects, documents, testimonies related to the history and conditions of mental hospitals in Italy. The Sgarbi exhibition was curated by the renowned art critic and Cesare Inzerillo, Sara Pallavicini, Giovanni Lettini and Stefano Morelli. In addition, thanks to the Lucca-based journalist and publisher Franca Savini, the event has received great support from many local organizations. What else to say, among the current exhibits in Lucca, Vittorio Sgarbi’s Museum of Madness is set to be truly unique and unusual and therefore very interesting. In short, you cannot miss it! Not to mention that the opening times of Museo della Follia 2019 are really convenient and span from 10.00 to 20.00. In short, you have no excuse, use this as the opportunity for a trip to beautiful Lucca where you will enjoy pleasant walks in the greenery of the historical walls whilst the old town will enchant you with its breathtaking corners!

Well, if you are still thinking about it, we will give you some extra details on the Museo of Madness by Vittorio Sgarbi and the various rooms that make up the exhibition in Lucca.

  • Madness in art, the great masters: the exhibition begins with an incredible succession of works by great figures whose work has in some way been characterized by the subtle and fascinating balance between genius, madness and creativity. Goya, Lega, Mancini, Signorini, Pirandello, Ligabue and Bacon, just to mention some of the great names of what is one of the most incredible art exhibits in Lucca!

  • Room of memories: objects, documents and images hailing from the Teramo mental hospital that reveal the painful story of its patients and how they suffered humiliation and alienation.

  • Grid room: this is an installation with a stunning size, 80 meters filled with portraits from the patient records of the Teramo hospital. The end result is made even more unsettling by a neon light that seems to materialize the disturbing thoughts of the people portrayed in the grid.

  • Antonio Ligabue and Pietro Ghizzardi: the important collaboration with Centro Studi & Archivio Antonio Ligabue, which was started in 2015, has been instrumental in the preparation of this room dedicated to Antonio Ligabue and to Pietro Ghizzardi, both considered extraordinary cases and defined by Vittorio Sgarbi’s himself as ‘two prolific anomalies’. Their works are in fact completely separated from the figurative painting of their contemporaries. Antonio Ligabue works often portray wild animals and menacing forests and symbolize the artist’s conflict with the world. Ghizzardi instead painted solitary characters. His state of physical alteration seems to be precisely what allowed him to lucidly represent his characters.

  • Enrico Robusti: ‘In questo bar non si fa credito’ is one of the most significant works of the Museum of Madness by Vittorio Sgarbi: it is a 10-meter long oil canvas representing a ship in the storm, inhabited by several characters and unusual and enigmatic scenes.

  • The Absents: the camera of the photographer Fabrizio Sclocchini portrays the abandoned areas of the Teramo hospital and reveals to us the stories of those who spent their lives in those rooms.

  • The stereoscopes: an installation that thanks to special devices (stereoscopes) will allow viewers to meander inside the mental hospital of Mondello where Gino Sandri lived and created many of his drawings. Thanks to Vincenzo Aragozzini’s images, you will feel plunged into an incredible world.

  • All Saints: a disquieting installation that reproduces a dark room populated only by patient-mummies to represent their struggle against suffering and death.


You cannot deny that the Museo della Follia in Lucca is truly a one-of-a-kind exhibition: you will enter a world that is frightening and tremendous but equally fascinating thanks to its connection with the arts. It is precisely the history of madness linked to artistic expression that makes this journey truly unique. After all, with Sgarbi and art you will not get disappointed! Well then, come and visit the exhibition at the Ex Cavallerizza in Lucca and since you are making the trip, why not discover some other corner of Tuscany? Don’t you know where to start? That's why we are here for you... take a look at our section on 'Tours and Activities'!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff


Period: From 27 February 2019 to 18 August 2019

Event location: Lucca

Contacts: Museum of madness tickets & info

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