Museo Bodoniano Parma contro campo
Museo Bodoniano Parma

The Museum houses the following materials belonging to the Pilotta Monumental Complex:

  • over a thousand Bodoni publications (including unique, extremely rare prints on silk and parchment) that constitute one of the world’s richest collections;
  • correspondence composed of roughly 12,000 letters;
  • documents, miscellanies of trial prints and typography manuals, specimens from the best known foreign and Italian type foundries, loose prints in paper and parchment;
  • an extraordinary collection of punches, matrices and other printing tools (forms for type casting, files, planes and spoon shovels, etc.) totalling 70,000 pieces;
  • six original neoclassical cabinets in which Bodoni kept his cases of punches and sets of matrices;
  • a faithful reproduction of Bodoni’s printing press.

Furthermore, the modern library, belonging to the museum itself, is open to readers.

Exhibition sections

Visitors are welcomed by the bronze bust of Giambattista Bodoni, made by the sculptor Carlo Corvi for the opening of the museum in its historic seat in 1963, on the model of the original marble sculpture by G.B. Comolli (Duomo di Parma). In the entrance there are also three eighteenth century cabinets in which Bodoni kept his trays of punches and the press, a taste of the section on “Making the Perfect Book”.

1. Bookmaking


The exhibition explains each phase of the creative and manufacturing process of a printed book through the display of the extraordinary collection of Bodoni’s printing tools, archival documents (manuscripts on typography and trial prints with handwritten corrections), as well as the final product. The printing press, which visitors can admire at the entrance to the museum, is a faithful XXth century reconstruction of Bodoni’s printing press, based on iconographic testimonies and descriptions left by Zefirino Campanini, Bodoni’s chief typesetter at the Royal Printing Office.

2. Giambattista Bodoni’s Masterpieces


The room is completed by a large made to measure bookcase-cabinet. Behind the panes some of the most important of Bodoni’s printed editions, his “masterpieces,” are displayed. The exhibition timeline shows the stylistic changes from the early production tied to the Ducal Printing Office, with volumes richly decorated with engravings and images, and the production of Bodoni’s private office where simplicity, clarity and neoclassical rigour make the character the sole protagonist of the page, as Bodoni desired. The shelves above hold part of the collection of Bodoni volumes conserved by the Biblioteca Palatina, particularly those with original bindings.

3. Interactive Touch Table


A multimedia interactive touch table gives access in digital form to several volumes, including the Manuale tipografico made up of 100 Roman, 50 cursive and 28 Greek type letters on which Bodoni worked his entire life, and the immense work of Oratio Dominica, the Lord’s Prayer in 155 languages printed using over 215 different letters, be they Latin, Greek or “exotic.” The touch-screen enables you to search by volume and browse through all the pages of a book to admire the elegance and high quality of Giambattista Bodoni’s typographic work.