The reorganized Risorgimento Museum was inaugurated in October 2005 in the upper rooms of the Grande Miglio building in the castle, once a large granary for the castle’s Venetian garrison which was built in the late sixteenth century.
The display is organized in accordance with up-to-date interpretations of the historical events and features a selection of materials from the various collections in the museum’s possession, including portraits, mementos, historic proclamations and prints documenting the epic deeds and patriotic risings which led to the establishment of national unity. By means of its iconographic collection, the museum illustrates the main historical events, following a micro-historical method in which the objects and the language of every-day events, together with mementos and documents, provide an explanation of important historical events.
Particular attention is dedicated to local historical events which led to the establishment of the 1797 Brescian Republic, the “Dieci Giornate” (Ten Days’) uprising, the important role in the war of independence and important local battles.
In the new museum it was decided to use part of the collection to construct an itinerary centred on the theme of the battle of San Martino and Solferino, entitled La grande battaglia, l’immenso ospedale (The Great Battle, the Enormous Hospital).
An itinerary which travels backwards in time through Italian history, stopping in 1859 to recount the events of the Second War of Independence and present its protagonists, from Napoleon III to Cavour, Vittorio Emanuele II and Garibaldi, and brings into sharp focus one of the episodes on which the Risorgimento was founded, the battle of San Martino and Solferino, which involved and profoundly scarred Brescia and the surrounding territory, and led to the defeat of the Austrians by the French and Piedmont armies and the historic transferral of Lombardy to the Kingdom of Sardinia
The museum presents a wide range of exhibits: geographical maps indicating troop movements, flags, prints, paintings, sculptures and various other objects, as well as propaganda and documents in memory of the fallen, and illustrations of the sites and physical contexts in which this hard and bloody struggle was played out.
The display also takes another point of view and directs attention to the city of Brescia, which at the same time was transformed into an enormous hospital, and where patriotic fervour was tempered with human charity - instilling in Henry Dunant, an eyewitness of the battle, principles that led him to found the International Red Cross.
A special section is devoted to Brescia’s Ten Days’ rebellion in March 1849, a popular uprising which was the idealistic prologue to the movement that inspired the difficult journey towards Italy’s unification, the events of which are narrated elsewhere in the museum.
The exhibition design helps the visitor to identify with the subject matter, thanks to the atmosphere created by the contrasting white walls and flooring of rough black iron slabs, and the striking continuously curving red backdrop against which the events are recounted.
The museum’s historical perspective is complemented by the artistic spectacle offered to visitors of paintings, drawings, prints, ceramics and sculptures which bear witness to the vivacity of the figurative arts in the 19th century and present an original panorama of the traditions and lifestyles of the recent past.
THE RISORGIMENTO MUSEUM
Via del Castello