The production and processing of marble have always been central for the cultural and economic development of Pietrasanta. In 1518 Michelangelo himself signed contracts regarding the marble that had been quarried for him in the Apuan Alps. Later the activity of the workshops of marble were joined by artistic bronze foundries and workshops of mosaics, modelers, and enlargers in clay. Following the success of a series of repeated exhibitions between 1976 and 1984, the Danish art critic, journalist and photographer Jette Muhlendorf who, since 1973, had collected models and works by the artists working in the area founded The Museo dei Bozzetti “Pierluigi Gherardi”. Jette Muhlendorf had the idea of creating a collection of plaster statues to document the activity of the Versilian workshops. The museum boasts more than 500 years of history, starting with the work of Michelangelo Buonarroti.
The artists were coming and still are today, to Pietrasanta from all over the world to work on the marble of local quarries and to take advantage of the craft experience of sculpture workshops and art foundries More than 700 pieces among sketches and models, mostly produced in plaster, by around 350 Italian and foreign artists are displayed in it. Maquettes (reduced scale models) and models (to scale) represent the initial idea of the sculptor before the translation into a finished work. Their dimensions can vary from a few centimeters to several meters, and they are realized in various materials, primarily gesso (a gypsum-based paste). They convey unique information about how a sculpture was conceived. They communicate both the creative part, the idea, the dream, the project as perceived, and the technical part, the translation into a final work. The statues realized on the base of these models can be found in museums, collections and parks all over the world.
The museum stands out also for its building of high artistic and historical value, the former convent of S. Agostino, built in the 16th century next to an existing 13thcentury church. The entire complex was restored so that 14th century rooms could be used.
In the open-air extension of the Museo dei Bozzetti” the International Park of Contemporary Sculpture”, you can admire a large number of monumental contemporary sculptures, located in public spaces both in the town center.and its surroundings. The works of art provide a strong visual testimony to the unique connections between Pietrasanta and Art. Today this symbiosis of crafts and arts is still very active and continues to develop thanks to the particular skills and mastery of local artisans, today’s followers of the ancient traditions which attract sculptors from all over the world, including the greatest exponents of contemporary art, who meet here to realize their own works.