December 11, 2011

Museo Archeologico di Amelia: The Collection

Photo of the Spagnoli home
 (Museo Archeologico di Amelia)
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

This is part of a series highlighting information posted at the archaeology museum in Amelia, the Umbrian town which hosts ARCA's International Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Program each summer.

The Museo Archeologico di Amelia began with the collection of artifacts by Giovanni Spagnoli, a public notary. He had purchased some items from the collection of from the Morelli family who had kept artifacts discovered in the late 19th century in the Viterbo area at their garden at Villa della Fontanelle in the hamlet of L'Annunziata di Amelia. The artifacts dated back to the late Roman Republic in terracotta works to 11th century reliefs.

Spagnoli brought the artifacts to his home in Amelia, according to the museum, "notifying the government in accordance with regulations."

Spagnoli wasn't the only one to collect artifacts. Some of the finest homes in Amelia reused objects from antiquity to decorate their homes. "In some cases, private recycling -- as elegant furnishings intended to bring greater prestige to the home or to decorate residential gardens -- distorted the meaning and original use of the item," the museum writes. For example, a piece from T. Roscius Autuma was originally intended to collect offers -- it was later reworked to serve as the basin of a fountain.

"As long as they still maintain a function, the surviving ancient structures are usually less restored and recycled for daily use though for applications that are clearly less prestigious than the original ones," writes the museum.

The museum exhibits are extensively curated with informational signs in English.