The Musma, Matera.

Contemporary art museum.

In Matera artists and art curators make wonderful use of the buildings and piazzas. Matera has a rich and vital contemporary art scene, as demonstrated by this list of the city’s contemporary galleries. The Matera’s Museum of Contemporary Sculpture (Museo della scultura contemporanea di Matera – Musma) is one of them.  Here contemporary art is brought into the grottos of the famous ‘Sassi di Matera’ (Stones of Matera). A plentiful collection of sculptures was showcased in the hypogea of Lucania in 2006, finding its ideal shelter beneath the underground vaults, protected in the small niches carved in the calcareous walls, where each piece is displayed on tuff blocks. Part of the collection – which represents a remarkable contribution to the history of Italian and international sculpture from the 1800s to the present day – is housed at the 16th century, three-story-high Palazzo Pomarici, which the locals call the “One-Hundred-Room Palace”.

This unique museum provides the perfect environment for the symbiosis of sculpture and the characteristic carved sites in the Sassi; the exhibition galleries, in fact, consist not only of the rooms of the Palazzo, but also the vast hypogea, where the works of art are revitalized by the strength and beauty of the surrounding rock hewn spaces. The museum project was born of the conviction that the Sassi of Matera – partly carved out of the rock and partly modelled with rock by folk masonry wisdom – provided a site extraordinarily adapted for presenting sculpture exhibitions. An ancient city like Matera should not live only on its past but must understand how to transform its historical heritage into a new culture. The Museum of Contemporary Sculpture maintains not only a permanent collection of the work of international sculptures, but also hosts changing exhibitions in its efforts to explore the artistic language of our times.  The Museum is home to works of art created with the most varied range of materials and techniques – donated by artists, critics and international galleries – as well as to the collection belonging to “Circolo La Scaletta”, a Matera-based association that has organized exhibitions inside the Sassi since 1978. There are drawings, jewellery, medals, engravings, and even books: the Scheiwiller Library includes about 2,500 volumes, comprising a range of monographs and catalogues.

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