Due to its story and to its collections, the Museum of Risorgimento in Genoa, housed in Giuseppe Mazzini’s birthplace, has always been an exception among other Italian museums.

Indeed, it was originally envisioned as a small “memorial museum” as early as 1875, few years after Giuseppe Mazzini’s death and earlier than other exhibitions and museums which opened in the major cities of the Italian peninsula as from 1878, the year of Vittorio Emanuele II’s death; it was the first and only museum devoted to representing the Risorgimento from a republican and Mazzinian point of view.

Since then the museum has gradually developed, and 1934 saw the creation of the Mazzinian Institute, a proper research centre complete with an exhibition space, an archive and a specialised library.
At the same time, thanks to donations and acquisitions, its collections have continued to grow until today, and they now constitute a rich historical heritage consisting of paintings, prints, weapons, uniforms, photographs, antiques, mementos and documents. These collections bring back to life not only legendary figures of the republican and democratic Risorgimento, such as Giuseppe Mazzini, Giuseppe Garibaldi and his Red Shirts, and Goffredo Mameli, but also people and events related to the first half of the 20th century.
The current exhibition layout was completely reorganized in 2005 to mark the bicentenary of Giuseppe Mazzini’s birth, and since then the layout has been renewed and extended more than once. It documents the historical events that led to the Unification of Italy, from the revolt of the Genoese against the Austrians in 1746 up to World War I, greatly thanks to the historical documents preserved in the Institute’s archives.

What still makes the Mazzinian Institute an important research centre on a national and international level, alongside the museum and the archives, well known and visited by scholars and tourists from all over Europe, is the presence of a considerable collection of books which include periodicals, essays, printed volumes about historical, philosophical, scientific and literary subjects, as well as a large number of publications related to the labour and cooperative movements.

The current exhibition layout
The current exhibition layout includes a dozen rooms; there, the visitor can relive the history of Risorgimento, with its republican and democratic movements and its main protagonists, Giuseppe Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibaldi.

The narration begins with the revolt against the Austrians and the revival of the legend of Balilla, symbol of Genoese resistance; it continues with the sections devoted to Jacobin Republic (1797), annexation of Republic of Genoa to the French Empire (1805) and to the Sardinia’s Kingdom, which took place after the Vienna Congress (1815).
The section devoted to Giuseppe Mazzini is hosted in the apartment where Mazzini’s family lived; the room where the “Apostle” was born partially maintains the appearance of a “memorial”, as in the first set-up (1875), while the other  two rooms are devoted to the young Giuseppe Mazzini, from his early experiences as member of the Carboneria to the Giovine Italia, with the reconstruction of his study room, including his guitar which he played during his long years of exile.

On the mezzanine floor, the most spectacular part of the Museum  opens with the section dedicated to Goffredo Mameli and the first autograph draft of the Canto degli Italiani, better known as “Fratelli d’Italia”, the Italian national anthem, written by Mameli and composed by Michele Novaro, both Genoese by birth. This section is followed by display windows devoted to the Roman Republic (Repubblica Romana, 1849) and to the little known “revolt of Genoa” (1849).

The exhibition continues with a section dedicated to Giuseppe Garibaldi and the “Expedition of the Thousand”, with the legendary Red Shirts (Camicie Rosse) and the light blue uniforms of the Carabinieri Genovesi, association of volunteer shooters founded in Genoa, responsible for the major military successes during the Sicilian expedition.
From the room “5 May 1915, the Monument to the Thousand between legend and propaganda” there begins the last section of the museum, devoted to World War I (Grande Guerra), in particular to the subjects of propaganda, with documents, posters and postcards, drawings by soldier-artists, among which some of the most significant names of the contemporary Italian art scene.

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