The Chiossone collections and their history

In his will drawn up in January 1898, three months before his death, Edoardo Chiossone legated his entire collection to the Ligurian Academy of Fine Arts in Genoa, which he considered his “mother in arts”, to be exhibited for the public. The collections arrived in Genoa in 1899, inside 96 large boxes where, as lamented by Vittorio Pica, they remained for a long time “due a little to the lack of suitable premises and a little to the avarice of rulers, but above all to bureaucratic sloth”. Finally set up on the third floor of the neoclassical Palace of the Academy, the Chiossone Museum was opened in October 1905 during the visit to Genoa of the King and Queen of Italy. As related by Orlando Grosso, the descriptive captions of the artefacts were curated in 1904 by “Prof. Okakura from Tokio, sent for this purpose at the request of the Japanese Legation in Rome”.
After being housed in the Ligurian Academy for 35 years, the museum was closed in 1942 to prevent the danger of the bombings; carefully packed, the collections were transported to a safe place by the municipal administration, which, by virtue of a testamentary clause, became its owner immediately after the end of World War II.

The magnificent building which nowadays houses the museum was designed at the request of the Municipal Administration of Genoa by the late architect Mario Labò, with structural and stylistic references to Japanese architecture. Opened to the public on 7 May 1971, the exhibition was curated by Dr Frabetti, Director of the Museum until 1990, with the arrangement of engineer Luciano Grossi Bianchi. The permanent exhibition, now completely renovated, offers a sampling of the collections, sorted by theme and technique: the great Buddhist sculpture, armours and weapons, applied arts (metal artefacts, enamels, lacquers, ceramics and porcelain, clothing accessories, theatrical masks, small bronze and wooden sculptures, costumes and textiles).
Although many paintings, graphic works, antique paper and library materials are not part of the permanent exhibition for their specific preservation requirements, they constitute a significant, precious and well-known part of the collections. In particular, Ukiyoe paintings and polychrome woodblock prints have been the subject of the important catalogue edited by Luigi Bernabò Brea and Eiko Kondō, as well as various temporary exhibitions in Italy and abroad. Other collections have been the subject of exhibitions and specialised studies carried out and presented in Genoa: the catalogues of fabrics, Sagemono, Ukiyoe prints and paintings of the erotic genre (shunga), tsuba and kodōgu date back to the 1980s, while those of ceramics, porcelain and lacquer to the 1990s.
  • Museo Chiossone, esterno
  • Museo Chiossone, interno