Palazzo Butera

Palazzo Butera, Via Butera, Palermo, PA, Italy

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This massive 18th-century palace on Palermo’s harbor has been restored and turned into an incredible museum or "cultural laboratory" by an Italian couple, Francesca Agnelli and Massimo Valsecchi, who purchased the building in 2016 and spent a fortune restoring it and then filling it with their spectacular collection. Their ambitious vision seizes on Sicily's unique past to help fashion the future: "In this historical moment, with its extensive migration and globalization, the continent of Europe appears to be in the grip of an identity crisis. What may rescue Europe from its crisis is a reinvigoration of its deep-rooted traditions of openness and hospitality. Sicily, with its history of millennial migrations, offers a rich and seasoned point of departure to reimagine European identity." With a mix of temporary exhibitions and a museum that includes a lifetime of treasures collected by connoisseurs who appreciate beauty from many eras and styles, the palace/foundation is a staggering achievement. For those who love art and decorative objects, it is worth making a visit to Palermo. There are dozens of baroque rooms adorned with frescoes and stucco work now filled with masterpieces from the Renaissance to pieces by contemporary artists, including Andy Warhol and Gilbert & George as well as extraordinary examples of ceramics and furniture from across the centuries. As their website declares: "The fundamental idea behind the collection is the proposition that placing outstanding artworks from different worlds side by side, is a way to understand the ties that lie beneath apparent cultural differences." And like any great cultural institution it provokes new connections and concepts in its visitors.

Written by Melissa Biggs Bradley

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