Architecture | Museo di Castelvecchio, Verona, Italy | October 2016
Castelvecchio is probably the most exemplary piece of restoration in Carlo Scarpa’s career. At the time of the project, the architect was already renowned for his outstanding interventions on some of the most famous museums in Italy, such as the Gallerie dell’Accademia and the Museo Correr in Venice, Palermo’s Sicilian Regional Gallery of Palazzo Abatellis and the Uffizi in Florence. Scarpa chose to use partial demolition in some areas to emphasise and to allow the reading of the various layers in the construction of the monument; in addition the sequence of spaces takes the visitor to the exterior and allows awareness of the juxtaposition of modern and historical – one such space is at the end of the sculpture exhibition where the statue of Cangrande I della Scala on a horse is displayed on a bridge above the terrace leading to the lower wing of the palace. When detailing he also uses a careful mixture of traditional (wood and stone) and modern (concrete) materials to accentuate each-other. Despite the long period of restoration, work started in 1958 and was completed in 1975, the process seems to have been consistent and without losing in quality of work.
When visiting, especially when going around the sculpture exhibition, one of the initial sensations (after I was done fan-girling over the pivoted entrance door of course) was the fact that it felt like walking on a stage. This was probably due to the careful treatment of the wall to floor joint and the open, yet conscientiously displayed exhibits in the space. Also, it may be because I am an architecture student, that the exhibitions itself have become a secondary aspect to the buildings I visit, however I consider that the Castelvecchio Museum is a showpiece in itself; one that I greatly recommend to visit if given the chance.
As a younger student I always found the rumour that Scarpa’s workers had to break in his office to steal the drawings to be able to continue their work comical, yet now his 657 drawings for the renovation of the museum have been published here.