At the end of April, the University of Messina opened the web portal MUniMe, Museums of the University of Messina (https://www.unime.it/it/munime).
It is a project that the author has been working on for a long time, and that has received further impetus from the emergency situation of recent months, which has led the University to share its artistic and scientific heritage with students, teachers, and the general public, thanks to the availability shown by the Rector, professor Salvatore Cuzzocrea.
Despite the disastrous earthquake of 1908 and the destruction of the Second World War, the University has a considerable heritage consisting of important collections of artistic and scientific nature, allocated in different locations.
The Museum of the University of Messina
In the Museum of the University of Messina (curated by the author), in the Palace of the Rector, are exposed to the public some of these collections: the Art Gallery, which preserves significant paintings from the sixteenth to the twentieth century, including a precious iconostasis in Byzantine style, eleven ancient views of Messina (one of which attributed to Caspar van Wittel), and numerous works by contemporary artists.
There are also the Collection Cesare and Doris Zipelli, rich in Italian ceramics (of the factories of Caltagirone and Castelli, among others) and Spanish (16th-19th centuries), to which is dedicated a gallery where it is also visible an archaeological excavation related to the ancient buildings that rose in the area where the University was rebuilt after 1908; the Collection Bartolo Baldanza, with more than 100 precious Greek, Roman and Medieval coins, exposed in the showcases of the great hall near the Aula Magna with numerous archaeological finds (including two valuable Attic craters), including about 80 elements.
The Fauna Museum, the Zoological Museum Cambrìa, the Botanical Garden Pietro Castelli, the Museum of History of the Mediterranean Pharmacy
The Fauna Museum (Filippo Spadola) exhibits a remarkable variety of specimens of numerous species and fossils; the Zoological Museum Cambrìa (Giuseppe Lo Paro) shows several specimens of mammals, reptiles, birds; the Botanical Garden Pietro Castelli ( Rosa Maria Picone) is rich in plant collections and rare plants; the Museum of History of the Mediterranean Pharmacy (Rita De Pasquale) houses an entire historic pharmacy of the second half of the 19th century.
These collections reflect the scientific interests and the taste of collectors who were Masters of our University. Among them we must also remember some Rectors, real patrons of Arts, such as Salvatore Pugliatti and Guglielmo Stagno d’Alcontres: it is precisely to Pugliatti that we owe the rich collection of paintings of the 20th century, with paintings by artists such as Guttuso, Rosai, Omiccioli.
The museums future
The Athenaeum’s commitment aims at the formation of a Museum System that can collect the most significant works and artifacts to be exhibited to the public: for this purpose, a prestigious building has recently been acquired in the University heritage, which will host the museum collections. Unfortunately, the present situation does not allow to proceed quickly towards this important aim; but it gives the opportunity to spread a significant message of culture and scientific commitment thanks to the web portal MUniMe (edited by Francesco La Rosa), through a virtual tour among works of art and archaeological finds, faunistic and fossil collections, the variety of plants of the Botanical Garden and pharmaceutical specimens.