Custodians of Memory – the Isle of Elba
The island's museums of art and history
These museums are the community's most precious patrimony, an important link with the past, a record of the beauty of every day life, and the art of its people—indispensable for understanding the present and making projects for the future.
The Small Mine is an underground itinerary 250 meters long that houses historical finds, old machines and typical minerals of Elba. The visit lasts about 15 minutes and is on the mine train. Outside from the underground tour is the Etruscan Mineral Museum with a collection of particular pieces housed in typical niches.
A tour of the Archeologic Museum of the Mineral District can be very interesting to complete the visit of the town.The exhibition covers a long period of time: from the first known manifestations that date from late Copper Era, through evidences from prehistory period, then Etruscan, Roman and late medieval.
The museum has been recently renovated. The exhibition reconstructs the history and cultural environment of the west side of the island. It is organized in four rooms: from prehistory to the Archaic Etruscan period; the Etruscan fortress of Mount Castello; the Roman period: the Elba granite and the cipolin; Procchio's wrecks.
In this Archaeological Museum there is a systemic exhibition of ancient history through the finds of the most important archeologic sites of the Archipelago.
The museum houses the bronze funeral mask and the cast of one of Napoleon’s hands found when he died at Saint Helen and mementos of his stay on Elba.
There are about 200 examples from the mining areas of eastern Elba sorted by finding location. The pieces are of great scientific and collector interest. Also in the museum an exhibition of original mining tools.
Official residence of Napoleon and his court. It was built a century before his arrival, near some windmills (‘mulino’ means ‘mill’) that from the high position made use of the sea breeze. Of great interest are the period furniture, the weapons, the paintings, the Emperor’s library and the garden with a beautiful view over the gulf.
Napoleon’s country residence owes its present appearance to Prince Demidoff, in fact a distant relation of the Emperor. In 1851 he bought the simple house and enlargened it with a neoclassic building that was later transformed in a museum called “Demidoff Gallery”. Inside the gallery there is a statue of Galathea attributed to Canova for which posed Paolina Bonaparte Borghese, Napoleon’s sister. The frescos inside the villa are by the painter Ravelli.
Created by Italo Bolano in 1964, the open-air museum is situated in the heart of the island, in the Etruscan and Napoleonic valley of San Martino. There are 24 monuments by the Elban artist: totems that blend perfectly with the ten-thousand square meters of typical Mediterranean plants. In the same area is also a gallery with a permanent exhibition by Italo Bolano who, during the last 40 years, has organized theater events, artistic handicraft laboratories (in which Italian and overseas artists create original ceramic products then exhibited in the garden), and summer painting and ceramic courses. Tourists can walk around the park and also take part in a painting or ceramic lesson. The International Art Center also works with handicapped persons. Among the beautiful nature inside the park and among the artists there is a particular atmosphere: an Arcadian encounter out of time.
(Source: Provincia di Livorno)