In Pietrasanta, in the heart of Versilia, is the first museum dedicated to the Polish sculptor Igor Mitoraj, who died in 2014. Located in the area once occupied by the municipal market, the museum holds the artist’s most important collection, including some of his masterpieces, such as the sculptures Bocca della Rocca, Corazza, and Mars, donated by Mitoraj’s heir, Jean Paul Sabatié, to the Italian Ministry of Culture.

To display this collection, we thought of creating an open space where Igor Mitoraj’s work may come alive in its interaction with the community of Pietrasanta. To mark the indissoluble relation the artist had with the city he had made his home, we imagined a new public square connecting with the old town center, reinforcing the museum’s role as cultural and social polarity. After all, the vital relationship between a museum and its public is strengthened by the interaction between the institution and the urban context.

Observing the existing structure of the old covered market, we realized that all we needed to do, to turn it into a museum, was to eliminate excess.

We wanted to preserve and enhance the structure of the old covered market, made of reinforced concrete self-supporting modular units designed by Tito Salvatori in the 1960s, and to remove all the rest so as to obtain the highest level of spaciousness and vision. We envisioned the three naves as a unitary, open, and flexible museum space that could easily be articulated to complement diversified exhibition routes.

Using the structural joints of the large, self-supporting structures allowed us to be very free in the definition of the display exploring the three spatial directions (length, width, height): by suspending the pieces onto the self-supporting structures, the works appear to be floating in the museum space, providing a flexible and easy setup solution.

In this project the combination of art and architecture defines the space, giving the existing structure a life of its own beyond time, surviving its original function, testifying to how the formative power of time can prevail on that of function. In this context Mitoraj’s work becomes a “memory of an absolute future,” overlapping the present with the past and the future.

As Francesco Buranelli, director of the Vatican Museum has observed, it is interesting to note how the surreal atmosphere that permeates Mitoraj’s work vanishes whenever his works are displayed in a context—be it ancient or modern—where there is life, a context capable of interacting with the “fractures” of his sculptures. When contextualized, Mitoraj’s works take on a new meaning, becoming installations capable of projecting us into the most distant past as well as into the most advanced future. This is the greatness of this artist, who can establish a dialogue with modern architecture, interact with antiquity, and go beyond the past thanks to his relation to it, looking it in the face and feeling its breath.

Working with Jean Paul Sabatié and the Atelier Mitoraj that is in charge of the museological aspects, we shared a common vision in which this museum operates as a pole of cultural attraction capable of hosting events connected to the life and work of the artist.

The idea we pursued was that of an active museum, an art center where contemplation and exchange make new urban and artistic energies converge. A museum concept that makes its surroundings fertile, connecting people sharing the same artistic values. A museum beyond its walls.

Municipality of Pietrasanta
Mayor Alberto Giovannetti

Project team:
Studio Lumine

OBR design team:
Paolo Brescia and Tommaso Principi,
Diego Ballini, Paola Berlanda, Andrea Casetto,
Francesco Cascella, Lorenzo Mellone, Carlo Rivi,
Marco Tedesco, Nina Tescari, Cristina Testa

Pietrasanta, Italy

site area 6,128 sqm
built surface 3,643 sqm

2021 start of works
2019 detailed design
2019 concept design
2018 preliminary design
2018 design competition (first prize)