The Diocesan museum of Ostuni is found on the ground floor of the ancient episcopal hall, formerly the home of the bishops of the ‘White City’, both when it was still an autonomous Diocese and after its union with the nearby Archdiocese of Brindisi, resulting in the creation of the current Archdiocese of Brindisi-Ostuni.
The museum, opened in June 2017, was designed to contain artworks originally housed in the Treasury of the Co-Cathedral Chapter, and from the Chapter archeological collections and art treasuries of local churches and monastries belonging to the Benedictine order (founded in 1519) and the Carmelite Order (1730).
The expositive itinery, divided into six sections, begins with archeological relics from the Messapian age, dating from between the 5th and 3rd Century B.C., which were recovered in the grounds of the Chapter. In the second room we can find the vestments and silverware used since the 16th Century by bishops and the college chapter during religious functions and important celebrations. The third room is dedicated entirely to a very important work of art: an anatomical crucifix; an extremely rare example of a wax sculpture dating from between the end of the 17th Century and the beginning of the 18th Century, which reveals an opening in the breastbone through which we can observe internally. The fourth room contains paintings, dating from between the 16th and 19th Century, the fifth a singular articulated statue of the Holy Virgin of the 18th Century (of natural size), whilst the last room hosts precious antique books which document local historical events and the distribution of ecclesiastical property.
In addition to this incredible heritage of relics, artworks and documents, the museum also hosts a rare representation of Ostuni, engraved in 1703 as part of Il regno di Napoli in prospettiva by the Benedictine abbot Giovan Battista Pacichelli. This representation is the starting point for the exhibition.
In order to create an enjoyable, educational and cultural atmosphere, descriptions of the works of art in caption form have been added throughout the museum (an audio version is also available as an QR code for smarthphones). The aim is place our visitors, both adults and children, at the centre of the museum experience, awakening their thirst for culture via the museum’s innovative approach.
Teodoro De Giorgio