Beneventano Palace in Lentini

A Museum project, a cultural mediation of an unpublished heritage
Beneventano Palace, Lentini (Siracusa)

The project, conceived by the writer, is about the study of the artistic heritage owned by the Beneventano family, a branch of the roman Orsini family. The Beneventano between the 19th and 20th centuries had a decisive influence on the economic and social life of eastern Sicily.

Lentini (Siracusa), Beneventano Palace, Giuseppe Luigi Beneventano senator and his family, 18 march 1927
Lentini (Siracusa), Beneventano Palace, Giuseppe Luigi Beneventano senator and his family, 18 March 1927

The subject in its various aspects (history of the family, art collections, social and economic influence) has been very little studied. For the purposes of an exhibition project, it is worthwhile to reconstruct through unpublished documentary sources and family testimonies, events that occurred between the 19th and 20th centuries. In particular the facts that led the family to the dispersion of art objects.

Lucrezia De Geronimo Beneventano della Corte, Beneventano Palace, Lentini (Siracusa), second half of the XIX century
Lucrezia De Geronimo Beneventano della Corte, Beneventano Palace, Lentini (Siracusa), second half of the 19th century
Lentini Palace

Beneventano Palace in Lentini is one of the rare architectural examples that has not undergone any relevant changes between the 18th and the 19thcentury. The Palace was rebuilt after the 1693 earthquake. The Palace develops inside a rectangular courtyard. At the end of the 19th century, baron Giuseppe Luigi Beneventano della Corte, commissioned the architect Carlo Sada to renovate the Palace.

Lentini (Siracusa), Beneventano Palace, inner court, 2005
Lentini (Siracusa), Beneventano Palace, inner court, 2005

In 1971 the building was sold to the municipality of Lentini, but then, as it was abandoned for years, it was subjected to collapses and looting of all kinds. In 2016 thanks to Italia Nostra Association (Lentini Section), to the contribution of volunteers, to restoration works, it was possible to organize numerous exhibitions by local and international artists. It was also created an artist residence for the “Badia Park, Lost and Found”.

Lentini (Siracusa), Beneventano Palace, inner court, 2005
Lentini (Siracusa), Beneventano Palace, inner court, 2005
The original nucleus of the collection

We don’t know the original nucleus of the collection, how it was formed, who were its initiators. The dispersion of a large part of archival papers, in particular of those that belonged to the family, makes it difficult the studying. We may suppose that the collection has started by Saverio Beneventano (1752-1830) and his ancestors. Regarding the types of acquisition, we may suppose, they derived from purchases, hereditary bequests, donations, exchanges with other collectors.

The enhancement project of the Lentini Building: methods and tools

Cultural Heritage corresponds to the perceived value of the community to which it belongs. It must be disseminated effectively and efficiently. In the case of public goods, enhancement creates social value, the aim of which is to obtain tangible and intangible benefits for the individual and community (Faro Convention).

Through digital it would be possible to reproduce in 3D unpublished collections disappeared from the Palace and kept in other locations (owned by the Beneventano). These collections may be supported by short files of the works. The use of social networks and the platform Izi Travel, will be strengthened, so that the stories related to the cultural heritage can be provided by the museum visitors themselves. The co-participation and co-creation process can bring the public closer to this heritage and it can make the Beneventano building project more inclusive. In the case of the design and installation of a permanent multimedia exhibition, it could be shared beyond a story, a short preview video (breaking news) to arouse curiosity and the desire to participate. Through these interaction processes a feedback can be obtained to analyze strengths and weaknesses (Swot Analysis).

Furthermore, through the understanding of what impressed the users the most, future strategies can be refined. In the reconstruction of cultural heritage (thanks also to the help of digital) by the public, the museum-compensation strategy is implemented. The relationship between the local community and the family that has had an impact on the history and on the development of the territory is strengthened.

Nowadays thanks to the link between the museum and the territory, the territory has become a widespread museum able to be enjoyed and known through the institute museum Beneventano Palace that is and interpreter and ambassador of territorial values. In redesigning the use of the Beneventano Building, it will be necessary to consider that «learning is not the result of the acquisition and reception of given knowledge pre-existing and external to the subject», but it is to be understood, according to the theories of various pedagogists, that the subject learns through a re-elaboration of the information received.

Thanks to the objects in the collections, «used, owned, built» also with the help of the museum visitors, it will be possible to tell the story of the Beneventano family again, by conveying «technical narratives and scientific data, and incorporating them in an exciting and easier to remember story» (Brunelli 2014).

The expected impact of the research

The study would allow the reading of the links between the various collections of the Benventano and an adequate musealization and enhancement of the Lentini Palace. That could induce a development of the territory through the organization of sustainable tourist itineraries which foster local employment.

Italo Panella

Italo Panella

PhD student in Heritage Sciences and Cultural Production (University of Catania); graduated from the University of Catania in the History of Art and Cultural Heritage; he holds a two-year Specialization Diploma in Artistic Heritage from the University of Macerata.