The National Gallery of Umbria, one of Italy’s leading art collections, is housed in the Palazzo dei Priori in Perugia.
The recent complete renovation of the museum’s installations (2022) has maximised the value of the building as its container, while also aiming to give its content the form of a compelling narrative in images.
From the mid-thirteenth century, the long history of art in Umbria evolved through mediaeval and Renaissance painting, with leading roles played by the masters of Umbria, such as the Master of Saint Francis, of Tuscany such as Nicola and Giovanni Pisano, Arnolfo di Cambio and Duccio di Boninsegna and of the Marches, such as Gentile da Fabriano and Lorenzo Salimbeni.
The visit continues through the early Renaissance, with works by Fra Angelico and Benozzo Gozzoli, before arriving at the Polyptych of Saint Anthony by Piero della Francesca and the Chapel of the Priors, frescoed by the Perugian artist Benedetto Bonfigli in the fifteenth century with stories from the lives of St Louis of Toulouse and St Herculanus and now completed with the installation by Vittorio Corsini. The museum holds the world’s largest collection of works by Pietro Perugino, displayed in two rooms, one housing the youthful output of the artist described by Agostino Chigi in 1500 as the “best maestro in Italy”, the other the works of his mature and later periods.
Next come Pinturicchio, the Raphael that the museum does not own but who is suggested by high-quality copies and directly derived works, then the works from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, by such artists as Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Pietro da Cortona, Pierre Subleyras and Jean-Baptiste Wicar, with the twentieth century recorded for posterity with works by Gerardo Dottori, Alberto Burri, Piero Dorazio and Adalberto Mecarelli.
Throughout the museum, the work of Roberto Paci Dalò offers visitors pertinent references to expand their grasp of the time and space related to the collection. The Clock Room is a reminder of Aldo Capitini, who lived here during his intense, difficult training and intellectual activity: we have him to thank for devising and organising the first Perugia-Assisi Peace and Fraternity March in 1961.