The Nuovo Forno del Pane in Bologna: when food and art cross the path – Italian Cuisine


This is how the ancient bread oven, inaugurated during the First World War, was transformed into a museum and, above all, into a new interdisciplinary production center available to artists

Where once the bread to give a shred of hope and nourishment to the people of Bologna, today we try to nourish art in its younger, most unusual, most beautiful forms. In this 2020 certainly far from simple for our artists, the New bread oven of the Emilian capital – within the Mambo, the Museum of Modern Art in Bologna – is renewed once again, transforming itself not only into an exhibition space, but into a real interdisciplinary production site available to a group of creative talents. An important leap for the structure, which thus returns to its origins as a place of preparation, of creation, with art that is metaphorically mixed. And then bread.

Il Forno del Pane (Photo: Cineteca di Bologna Archive)

The history of the building

The building that now houses the MAMbo has its roots up to the early twentieth century. The first section, in particular, was built in 1915 at the behest of the Mayor of Bologna Francesco Zanardi: its original function is that of a municipal bakery and becomes essential during the years of WWI, to ensure the supply of bread to citizens and to calm the prices. In the 1940s, then, the building was expanded to house the Autonomous Consumption Authority, until its final closure in 1958.

Conversely, the transformation of the old bakery into a museum began in the second half of the 1990s. The restoration, designed by Aldo Rossi, aims to recover the structure with the utmost respect for its pre-existing architectural features. When the restoration is complete, the space is distributed over three floors, which house a conference room, a bar-restaurant, a bookshop, an educational department, exhibition rooms and the contemporary art library-newspaper library. But also the Hall of the Chimneys, which still retains the ancient fireplaces of the bakery, and which today is the beating heart of the New Forno del Pane project.

A new space for artistic production

The international explosion of the pandemic due to coronavirus led to an in-depth reflection not only on the possibility of enjoying art, but above all on the nature of the public museum institution, its function, its role for the cities and communities of reference. The Board of Directors of the Bologna Museums Institution, the Department of Culture and Promotion of the city and the related Department of the Municipality of Bologna, as well as the staff of MAMbo and its director Lorenzo Balbi, so they decided for an identity and strategic redefinition of the museum, to be undertaken through the project of the Nuovo Forno del Pane.

The building, therefore, is no longer intended only as a place of artistic enjoyment, but as a interdisciplinary production center in the round: the Sala delle Ciminiere del MAMbo is once again one cooking for the creative community, where art becomes bread for the mind and the museum turns into an oven, an incubator of creativity. A space that Bologna offers its artists to restart, to be reborn after the emergency using beauty and culture as an engine.

The selected artists

The commission chaired by Lorenzo Balbi himself – also responsible for the Modern and Contemporary Art Area of ​​the Bologna Museums Institution, has thus selected 12 artists domiciled in the Metropolitan City of Bologna, which has been assigned a research and production space within the Nuovo Forno del Pane. In particular, these are Ruth Beraha (1986, Milan), Paolo Bufalini (1994, Rome), Letizia Calori (1986, Bologna), Giuseppe De Mattia (1980, Bari), Allison Grimaldi Donahue (1984, Middletown, USA), Bekhbaatar Enkhtur (1994, UlaanBaatar, Mongolia), Eleonora Luccarini (1993, Bologna), Rachele Maistrello (1986, Vittorio Veneto), Francis Offman (1987, Butare, Rwanda), Mattia Pajè (1991, Melzo), Vincenzo Simone (1980, Seraing , Belgium), Filippo Tappi (1985, Cesena).

A decidedly varied selection in profiles – by age and geographic origin, of course, but above all by training and expressive languages ​​- which well represents the new inclinations traced by emerging Italian art. The hope is that the group can find in the daily experience of close comparison a further element of wealth and an opportunity for growth. For themselves, as well as for the whole community.

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