The non-profit “Fondazione Tito Balestra” is located in the Castello Malatestiano in the town of Longiano. The Foundation curates one of the most impressive collections of modern art in Emilia Romagna. Dedicated to twentieth-century Italian art, the collection is the fruit of the passion and effort of Tito Balestra, poet, collector and acute observer of the daily life of a generation that was struggling to emerge from the ruins of the Second World War. Born in Longiano in 1923, Balestra moved to Rome in 1946, where he entered into contact with a fervid and prolific cultural scene.
One peculiarity of this important collection (2302 paintings, graphic works and sculptures) is that it owes its establishment to the numerous “exchanges”, friendships and cultural interests that Tito Balestra forged with the artistic world of the capital, which in the course of three decades (1946-1976) he had ample chance to know, explore and absorb. Following his death in 1976, his brother Romano and a group of friends worked to honor Balestra’s wish that the collection not be dispersed. Romano and this circle of acquaintances, which included Giuseppe Appella, Enzo Dalla Chiesa, Mino Maccari, Gino Montesanto, Amelio Roccamonte and Vanni Scheiwiller, raised funds such that Balestra’s wife Anna Maria De Agazio and other family members were able to establish a foundation in Longiano. The institution was inaugurated in 1982 with the first exhibition of the collection. In 1991, on the occasion of its transfer to the Castello Malatestiano, a selection of roughly 400 works was exhibited, curated by Flaminio Balestra, director of the Foundation. Through various cultural initiatives, the Museum promotes one of the finest and most original art collections of the 20th century, which includes works by Mafai, Rosai, De Pisis, Sironi, Guttuso, Vespignani, Maccari, Morandi, Sughi and Zancanaro
In addition to preserving and expanding its artistic, bibliographic and documentary holdings, the Foundation aims to promote appreciation of contemporary graphic and other visual arts. To this end it makes use of the permanent exhibition of works from the Balestra collection and also organizes events and conferences focusing primarily on twentieth-century art and culture.
The collection is especially noteworthy for possessing a great number of works by Mino Maccari (approximately 1800 works of painting and graphic art), the key artist in the history of Italian painting of the last century. Also of note is the section of drawings by foreign artists, including Chagall, Goya, Matisse, Kokoschka, Léger, Rouault and Twombly.
Since 1991 the Balestra Foundation has carried out a number of initiatives: together with members of the Scuola Operativa Italiana, for example, in 1999 the Foundation created the Centro Italiano di Didattica Operativa (Italian Center for Functional Learning) and the Laboratori Sperimentali Didattici (Experimental Education Laboratories). These centers represent opportunities for researching expressive idioms so as to expand the function of galleries beyond that of simply preserving works of art: the aim is to promote an “aesthetic existence” through emotion and cultural exchange, especially with regard to younger generations. Inside the Foundation are preserved, though unfortunately only in part, the archive and library (roughly 3500 volumes) of Tito and Anna Balestra. The archive contains notes, manuscripts, typewritten works, articles, photographs and some documents, in addition to a significant corpus of correspondence. By means of purchases, donations and exchanges, since 1991 the Museum has put together a collection of over 3,000 books on art, literature and museum culture.
On the occasion of its twentieth anniversary in 2010, the Fondazione Tito Balestra attained a prestigious recognition for the many cultural and institutional activities (exhibitions, conferences, seminars and educational undertakings) that it has had a hand in promoting since its establishment. In addition to its involvement in the field of culture, the Foundation has indeed worked to assure that the town Longiano possessed a modern and efficient museum, one that was particularly attentive to national and regional standards. In appreciation of these efforts, the regional government of Emilia Romagna cited the Foundation as one of the museums which attained “the first recognition of museums in the Region of Emilia Romagna for adhering to the quality standards and objectives stipulated in Regional Law 18/2000.” This status was granted in light of the respect that the Foundation demonstrated for current institutional and safety standards required of museums; it further acknowledged the educational activities pioneered by the Foundation in the region, the quality of the services offered to the public and its involvement in the field of publishing. Finally, it acknowledged the Foundation’s use of advanced technologies in the areas of safety, archiving and cataloguing, and guided tours.
Today the Foundation boasts a collection of nearly 5,000 works.
The Malatestiano Castle and the Tito Balestra Foundation are open to the public year round from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.; in the month of August opening hours are afternoon only from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Adults 7.00 euro
Reduced 5.00 euro (persons over 65, teachers and groups of 10 or more )
Reduced special 3.00 euro (students and persons between 14 and 18 years of age)
free for residents in the Longiano area, children under 13 years old, journalists, persons with disabilities and their accompanying person
“Fidelity Card”: 15.00 euro (free admission for one year to various exhibitions and Fondazione collections, 20% off on Fondazione publications, free welcome gadget)
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/FondazioneBalestra