Stone treasures of the Este family
Located in a four-sided portico on the ground floor of the Palazzo dei Musei in Modena, the Museo Lapidario Estense is the city's first public museum. It was founded in 1828 under Duke Francesco IV of Austria-Este, from an initial collection of stone objects from the Ferrara Antiquarium of Alfonso II d'Este and the Roman collection of Cardinal Rodolfo Pio da Carpi.
The collection not only includes artefacts from the Roman era but also sarcophagi and archaeological remains that until the late 17th century, were located for centuries in the southern churchyard of the cathedral or in other sacred buildings in Modena and Reggio Emilia. This was a practice that originated in the age of humanism in nearby Bologna, in memory of those citizens who had distinguished themselves first and foremost in the fields of law and medicine. The last museographical arrangement dates to Cesare Giorgi in 1938, recovered with the careful restoration work at the end of the last century.
In addition to the Lapidary Museum, the Palazzo dei Musei houses the Galleria Estense, four halls and sixteen exhibition rooms with paintings, marble and terracotta sculptures, applied art objects and musical instruments once belonging to the Este family. There are masterpieces by Correggio, Velázquez, Bernini and Guido Reni. The second floor houses the Estense University Library with valuable manuscripts and rare printed editions.