Although the idea of creating a national centre of graphic art studies in Parma, dedicated to the typographer from Saluzzo, had already been muted in May 1940 on the 200th anniversary of Bodoni’s birthday, the idea had no time to mature because Italy entered the war on 10 June 1940.
Moreover, The Palatina Library, where Bodoni’s valuable collection was kept, was partially destroyed by bombing in 1944. Luckily the typographer’s technical and bibliographical heritage, held in wooden cases, was miraculously preserved.
Once the reconstruction was completed and the civil, political, social and economic life of the post-war city re-established, in 1957 the Bodoni Museum project was relaunched: the Comitato Promotore was founded for the purpose of pursuing the initiative.
The Memorandum of Association of the Bodoni Museum was signed in 1960, while the renovation of the top floor of the Palatina Library, destined to host the new institution, was already in progress. The museum’s overall interior design, as well as a copy of Bodoni’s bronze bust (after the original by Giambattista Comolli) were entrusted to the sculptor Carlo Corvi (1904-1978).
Once a legal recognition and statutory approval (Italian Presidential Decree of 18 July 1962) were obtained, the new museum finally opened to the public on 17 November 1963.
After two decades of great vitality and prosperity as a promoter of studies, research, competitions, exhibitions and other cultural events of international prominence, the Museum experienced hard times as a result of repeated closures following the earthquake in 1983 and scarce financing.
In 1999 the phase of relaunch was initiated with a new statute approved by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and the renewed Board of Directors.
In 2004, at the invitation of the Gutenberg Museum of Mainz, the Bodoni Museum adhered to the Association of European Printing Museum (A.E.P.M.)
The Museum co-founded the Associazione Italiana dei Musei della Stampa e della Carta (A.I.M.S.C.) and entered its Governing Council.
In 2012 the Museum joined the Province of Parma Museum System (Regional Government Decision N.° 268 of 10/05/2012).
The last important change was introduced with the new statutory modifications formalized in 2013, which led, amongst others, to the creation of the position of a Scientific Director.
After two and a half years of forced closure following an outbreak of fire in October 2012 that affected the Biblioteca Palatina, with the result that the entire structure was declared unfit for use, on 18th April 2015 the museum reopened with a new layout, subdivided into three new sections (Printing Before Bodoni, Making the Perfect Book, Giambattista Bodoni) and upgraded with a complete caption system, a series of explanatory panels in the exhibition sections (in Italian and English) and two touch screen terminals where you can watch brief films and virtually browse through a number of Bodoni’s masterpieces.
The new Bodoni Museum opened on 30th November, now located on the ground floor of the Biblioteca Palatina (renovated for the purpose) and with a totally new layout.
Bodoni Museum Foundation
The foundation came to life on 16 July 1960 benefiting from the economic, cultural and political efforts of the city and beyond. Indeed, at the first board meeting there were representatives from; Province and Comune of Parma, Chamber of Commerce, Industrial Union of Parma, Provincial Tourist Board, Academy of Fine Art of Parma, National Historical Deputation for the Province of Parma, National Institution for Professional Graphics Studies, etc… Created under the auspices of the Palatina Library, the Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation subject to private law, has the aim of promoting the figure of the typographer Giambattista Bodoni (1740-1813), whose activity was based in Parma, and thus to promote the Bodoni collections (printing and smelting materials, publications, correspondence and much else besides), possessed and conserved by the Palatina Library, now part of the Complesso Monumentale della Pilota.
In order to achieve its aims, the Foundation sets it sights on promoting debates, conferences, research and study projects, seminaries, reviews, meetings, exhibitions, didactic initiatives in the field of the history of the book and the art of printing and graphics, carry out editorial activities to divulge scientific research, promote study grants, insitutue a prize dedicated to Bodoni and support restoration projects.