The Art Gallery and the Library of Pieve di Cento

A culture box in the middle of the Emilia plain
Matteo Loves (1585 ca.-ante 1647)

In the heart of the Emilia plain, in the province of Bologna, there is a small town, which is however great in terms of artistic and cultural heritage, Pieve di Cento.
In past centuries, entering through one of the four city gates, you had the opportunity to enter a world in which capable hands turned a canvas or into poetry, in which the repetitive movement of a chisel indicated that a piece of wood was about to become a musical instrument, an altar, or a decor.

In the churches and the oratories of the town, built inside the area of the collegiate pieve of Saint Mary Major, the works realized by the most prominent artists of the period adorned the altars, chapels and vaults of the aisles and oratories, thus helping to raise the soul of the faithful.

The propitious days of the past can be forgotten or enhanced. By choosing the second of the two viable ways, not only was the heritage preserved, but also enriched and valued, thanks to an administration attentive to culture. Inside an 18th century palace – the old hospital building – located in Andrea Costa square was even inaugurated the Civic Art Gallery. In 2020, it celebrated 40 years of beauty and history donated to its visitors. As a reward and as a consequence of the general plan of reconstruction started after the 2012 earthquake, the municipality and the community opted for strong innovation, with the transfer of the Civic Art Gallery and Library to the former elementary school, and hence the opening of the new cultural hub. In fact, art and culture continue to be foundations of our lives, to help us understand who we are and to find answers to our questions about the future.

The new Art Gallery and Library

The Art Gallery and the Library found a new home in the former elementary school “E. De Amicis”. Symbolically, the building continues the mission of nourishing the knowledge of the citizens. The building was erected between 1912 and 1914. Nonetheless, it was soon turned into a Civil Hospital during the Great War. During the Second World War, between 1943 and 1945, the the building was occupied by German troops. On returning to peacetime, once again it housed the students until 2012, when the earthquake inflicted a severe blow to this structure. In the course of 2012, it was decided to renovate the damaged building and to convert it to Art Gallery and library, thus beginning the story we are illustrating in these pages.


The new cultural hub will rise at the heart of the art district of Pieve, which goes from the private MAGI ‘900 Museum to the House of Music, passing through the new children’s centre, the Bologna city gate and the History Museum located in the Fortress.

Among the strong points of the project are accessibility, multimediality, interdisciplinarity, the focus on research and the will to become a point of reference for Pieve and the surrounding area. The art gallery will develop on two floors and over 1000 works dated from 1300 to the present date will be exhibited. An area will be dedicated to the temporary exhibits, so that the gallery becomes fluid, constantly moving. A further objective is to be a lively place, consequently, an auditorium, a coffeehouse and a park with benches, trees and illumination will be available.

Historical photo of the Elementary Schools
Historical photo of the elementary schools “E. De Amicis”

Inside the rooms of the Art Gallery, it is possible to travel back in time up to 1300, to savour the mastery of the artists of the Bologna and Ferrara area, and to be charmed by the brushstrokes of Guercino or the painters of his workshop such as Matteo Loves and Benedetto Zallone or other great artists such as Simone di Filippo known as “dei Crocifissi”, Scarsellino and Giuseppe Zola.

You have also the opportunity to retrace the history of the long pilgrimages, starting with the Madonna with Child, a wooden statue-reliquary coming from Spain and to observe the works realized by the sons of Pieve: Giuseppe Zacchini, Antonio Alberghini and Remo Fabbri. During the visit to the Art Gallery, you have the possibility to analyze the evolution of art over the centuries, arriving at the contemporary one. In fact, thank to generous donations are exhibited several works of Severo Pozzati, the drawings, sketches and masonites of Pirro Cuniberti, the paintings of Norma Mascellani, the prints of the artists from the Morgan Paint’s world. To further embellish the exhibition, there is a glass collection resulting from four donations.

Ambito spagnolo, Madonna lignea
Spain area, Madonna with child, painted, sculpted and gilded wooden reliquary statue, mid-to late 14th century, h 110 cm. Provenance: church of Saint Mary of devotion
What is the new Art Gallery?

It is a multifunctional and multipurpose area. A place where knowledge finds a home. A shelter where rediscovering the thought. A site where tradition is jealously guarded and then generously shared with the others. A centre where children and teenagers can discuss and where adults can measure their own experience so as not to stop growing. A house where to feel welcome, where to learn. A space where the technology and the new media support the ancient knowledge.  

It is a library where students can find peace and materials for their study. A place to stay. The house of the artists of the past and the hotbed of today and tomorrow’s artists. A box from which students can draw treasures in order to learn.

Giuseppe Zola (1672-1743)
Giuseppe Zola (1672-1743), Landscape with the finding of Moses, c. 1700-1710, oil on canvas, 131×188 cm. On deposit from Opera Pia Luigi Galuppi

This building has ever been a place where everyone was welcomed, an inclusive and accessible space. Thousands of children have passed through its doors, full of expectations, and then learned to read, to write, to count. They understood the rudiments of living in society, of being citizens of the world. This place is still and increasingly will be a space where to improve and grow up. The ambition is to be a bright spot of hope. A point of reference for the Metropolitan City and beyond.

Andrea Rubini

Andrea Rubini

Bachelor’s degree in Foreign Languages and Master’s degree inInternational Relations, he is an administrative expert and cultural operator at the Unione Reno Galliera. He wrote several articles about Sociology and Economics at the ISCTE of Lisbon published in the Cadernos de Estudos Africanos and the Portuguese Journal of Social Science.

Giorgia Govoni

Giorgia Govoni

Bachelor’s degree in Classical Literature (University of Bologna) and Master’s degree in Cultural Heritage Conservation (University of Ravenna, she is the person responsible of the Unione Reno Galliera museums. She edited several art volumes and curated sculpture and painting exhibitions.