The collection

In 1884, the Duchess of Galliera, Maria Brignole-Sale De Ferrari, bequeathed the Palazzo Bianco to the Municipality of Genoa ‘for the establishment of a public gallery’, as the city still lacked one. The Duchess had already donated the Palazzo Rosso to the Municipality in 1874, but with a different purpose: its nature of an aristocratic house were to be maintained, almost as a monument to the Brignole-Sale family, and its collections not expanded.
A series of old and modern works of art (including some particularly precious) was thus transferred from the Parisian house of the Galliera family to Genoa, as the core of the soon-to-be civic museum. Moreover, the generous Duchess assigned her real estate revenues to the city of Genoa, whose proceeds were to be allocated to increase the city’s historical and artistic heritage.
A number of bequests and donations further increased the collections. Among others, Antonio Samengo and Senator Giovanni Ricci bequeathed their collections to the Municipality in 1887 and 1892, respectively. The collections grew further in 1913 with Carlotta Ageno De Simoni’s legacy of the painting collection of Casa Piola, and in 1926 with Enrico L. Peirano’s bequest. The Municipality engaged in a careful policy of purchases, differentiated according to the different historical circumstances.
The civic artistic heritage was already rich even before the suppressive laws of the revolutionary and Napoleonic age, together with other laws passed in the 19th century, put a large artistic heritage belonging to the religious corporations into the city’s hands. In addition, two remarkable collections were bequeathed to the Municipality by Prince Oddone of Savoy, the fourth child of Victor Emmanuel II, in 1866, and by Giovanni Battista Assarotti in 1875.

The Palazzo Bianco was designated as a civic museum of art and history during the last decades of the 19th century, exhibiting in different ways the diverse and conspicuous civic heritage collected up to that moment and becoming the core of the municipal museum complex.