The Island of Treasuries - Jewels from Sicilian Temples


Date: 20.10.2004 - 28.11.2004

This exhibition displays precious objects, presented outside Italy for the first time. It includes a vast collection of significant relics of goldsmith‘s trade and textile and wood-carving production from Middle Ages to early modern era. The core of the exhibition are the examples of magnificent liturgical objects and tools (monstrances, chalices, crosses, croziers), votive relics (reliquaries) as well as paramenta (liturgical vestments of priests, antependia). The majority of these objects come from the temples located in central Sicily – particularly in its largest region Nisseno. The treasuries from the cathedrals in Catania and Enna and the metropolis Caltanissetta, as well as the collections from the museum in Messina and the treasuries of the mountain temples, represent one of the most significant sources of these valuable artefacts.

The rare exhibits reflect not only the artistic potential of Sicily but also the richness of luxurious and exotic materials (such as precious metals, ivory, precious stones, and brocades). The exhibition also displays treasures unique to Sicily: many sacred objects embellished with the red sea coral for which the area was famous – especially the area around the city of Trapani.

The specific culture of the island of Sicily developed for more than 2,500 years at the crossroads between Europe, Africa and Asia. It is firmly rooted in the heritage of the Greek and Roman periods of Classical Antiquity, while the techniques and décor testify to Arabian influence. Also apparent are influences of Spain, with which the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was politically united for several centuries.

The exhibition, displaying more than one hundred selected objects, was prepared by the Administrative Centre for the Care of Historical Monuments in Caltanissetta as the final stage of an ongoing project of scientific cataloguing of movable relics, and their restoration. The exhibition is installed in the imposing, closed treasury, in safe deposit cases. The majority of the objects on display have never before been taken from the original place of their deposition.

The exhibition was made possible due to a grant from the European Union under the auspices of its regional support program. Among other printed materials, the exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue in Italian with colour reproductions of all the exhibited works.

Permanent exhibitions

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