Barbarism Begins at Home: Islamic Art on Display in Palermo's Museo Nazionale and Sicilian Ethnography at the 1891?92 Esposizione Nazionale
Type
abstract
Year
2020
In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, Palermo's Museo Nazionale (National Museum) displayed one of the earliest institutional collections of Islamic art in Western Europe. The museum's director, Antonino Salinas, exhibited objects demonstrating the island's material heritage, including its two-and-a-half centuries of rule by North African dynasties during the medieval period. The prevailing perception elsewhere in post-unification Italy - that Sicily was ungovernable and barbaric in nature - heightened the display's significance. Another exhibition that many Italians would have perceived as representing the 'other' was the Mostra Etnografica Siciliana (Sicilian Ethnographic Exhibition), which the folklorist Giuseppe Pitrè created for the 1891-92 Palermo Esposizione Nazionale (National Exposition). Highlighting Sicily's volatile image, the Italian press implicitly equated Pitrè's show with the so-called Abyssinian Village, which stood in the exposition fairgrounds and marked the establishment of Italy's first colony in Eritrea at a time of unprecedented imperial expansion. At the National Museum, Salinas remained undeterred, and despite associations of the island's conditions with Africa, he expanded its Islamic holdings. Likewise, Pitrè exhibited costumes, tools, and devotional objects that further accentuated regional differences at the National Exposition. In both displays, Salinas and Pitrè presented what they conceived as Sicily's unique cultural and historical patrimony.



Citation
Katz, Dana. "Barbarism Begins at Home: Islamic Art on Display in Palermo's Museo Nazionale and Sicilian Ethnography at the 1891-92 Esposizione Nazionale." International Journal of Islamic Architecture 9,1 (2020): 91-117.
Collections
Copyright
Intellect
Country
Italy
Language
English
Keywords
exhibitions
Islamic art