Molise is home to the MAACK, one of the most beautiful open-air museums in Italy
05 October 2022
Molise, cradle of contemporary art
The MAACK is one of the most interesting museums in Italy on the contemporary art scene. Its mission is to redevelop the area, bring it into focus and give new space to the most interesting artistic ideas of recent years. Today, it brings together 21 works created by Italian and international artists over a period of 20 years and a series of permanent and/or temporary installations.
This museum was founded in the early 1990s based on an idea put forward by architect Massimo Palumbo and supported by the municipal administration and several other benefactors, creating the Kalenarte Association. Over two decades, the project, conceived specifically for Casacalenda, has become increasingly prominent and is still a work in progress, by its very nature destined to evolve. Molise thus becomes not only a container of art but also a place where ideas ferment and influences take place.
Casacalenda: where the works are located
Being an open-air museum, the works are scattered throughout the entire municipality, with particular attention paid to the most isolated and neglected places in the town, those that were thought to have nothing to say, and instead now communicate with visitors through art.
The project sought to create a close relationship between art and architecture, and the places once again showed their creative force and their power to tell stories.
Contemporary art as a window on the world
A small town in the Molise province thus becomes an open window on the world through contemporary art. There are currently 21 permanent installations in the streets, squares, woods and landscapes, the last of which dates back to 2014. But for the past few years, the Franco Libertucci Civic Gallery of Contemporary Art has been completing the itinerary through art with a collection of 114 additional works including paintings, installations and sculptures.
Contemporary art itinerary: how to visit the MAACK
When you arrive in Casacalenda, amidst the green hills and the silence of the Molise countryside, you immediately enter a new dimension. The museum is not a separate space from the town, it is an integral part of it, and to see it, one must immerse oneself in the narrow streets, steps and small squares, among the people who live in these places every day, but also in the immediate surroundings, in the greenery.
The works can be visited by following different itineraries - the red, blue or green route - or by asking a local guide to accompany you to discover all the exhibits, also learning about the materials used, which are sometimes recycled but always sourced locally. And since the museum is incorporated into the village, a visit is also an opportunity to discover its traditions.
Exploring the works: a taster
We begin in the small square a stone's throw from the town hall, an area that houses the large black and white Scacchiera (chessboard) created from local natural materials. Anyone can interact with the work, and children in particular do so. Along the way, you will also discover the gioco del sole (game of the sun), a wall mosaic made of local stone and gold tiles that reflect the light. It depicts a child playing ball, something that can still be seen in the streets of small villages. Don't miss the Albero della cuccagna, from which typical products of the village hang.
It is up to you to discover the rest of the stages that correspond to as many installations. The last one, hidden in the greenery outside the village, is the gigantic Poet of Casacalenda by the Greek artist Kostas Varotsos. The artist decided not to sign it because he created it together with all the inhabitants who contributed manually to the construction of the 9-metre high colossus, like the trees that surround him and live with him.