The Museo dei Bozzetti (Maquettes' Museum) “Pierluigi Gherardi” was created in 1984 in Pietrasanta, as a result of initiatives promoted by Jette Muhlendorph, and with the purpose to document the artistic activity of the many sculptors who come here from all over the world to realise their own works in the local artisan workshops.
The Museum is an unique institution of its kind; it is the direct reflection of the activity that especially distinguishes the Apuan region of Versilia and in particular Pietrasanta: Sculpture.
A tradition of centuries in fact links this town to the artistic workmanship of marble: the activity of masters from Pietrasanta is attested in different Tuscan centres since the XIVth century, and further exemplified by works in the town's own churches; it was in Pietrasanta that Michelangelo in the XVIth century came to sign contracts for the marbles he wanted to be extracted on the nearby Apuan Alps.
Later the activity of the workshops of marble were joined by artistic bronze foundries and workshops of mosaics, modellers, and enlargers in clay. In recent times this symbiosis of crafts and arts is still very active and continues to develop thanks to the particular skills and mastery of local artisans, today’s followers of the ancient traditions, and which attract sculptors from all over the world, including the greatest exponents of contemporary art, who meet here to realise their own works.
Placed in the sixteenth-century ex-convent of S. Agostino, the Museum seeks to illustrate the process of creation and realisation of art in marble and bronze, to showcase generations of artists and the enduring value of their work.
Maquettes (reduced scale models) and models (to scale) represent the initial idea of the sculptor before the translation into a finished work. Their dimensions can vary from a few cms to several meters, and they are realised in various materials, primarily gesso (a gypsum-based paste). They convey unique information about how a sculpture was conceived. They communicate both the creative part, the idea, the dream, the project as perceived, and the technical part, the translation into a final work, with all the variables and often forgotten stages and participants.
The Museo dei Bozzetti (Maquettes’ Museum) today holds over 700 maquettes and models, mainly in gesso, of sculptures of more than 350 Italian and foreign artists. The works realised on the base of these models can be found in museums, collections and parks all over the world. This is a prime reason to visit the exposition: to review a panoramic selection of the various artistic tendencies that characterized XXth century sculpture, as an important preparation to experience contemporary sculpture. In the Museum you can view works by Henri Georges Adam, André Bloc, Helaine Blumenfeld, Fernando Botero, Antonio Bozzano, Davide Calandra, Arturo Carmassi, Pietro Cascella, César, Pietro Consagra, Niki De Saint Phalle, Novello Finotti, Jean Michel Folon, Gonzalo Fonseca, Rosalda Gilardi, Emile Gilioli, Gigi Guadagnucci, Jean Robert Ipousteguy, Igor Mitoraj, Costantino Nivola, Isamu Noguchi, Maria Papa, Alicia Penalba, Beverly Pepper, Gio’ Pomodoro, Edoardo Rubino, Carlo Sergio Signori, Ivan Theimer, Giuliano Vangi, Leone Tommasi, Kan Yasuda, and many others.
The Museum also holds rich documentary files about artists and workshops, both on paper and in digitised form, and integrated with the numerous volumes on art available in the nearby town library.
Further sections of models are placed in public buildings or spaces of Pietrasanta, as part of the “Diffused Museum” project.
Other Museum sites in Palazzo Panichi, which faces Piazza Duomo (Square of the Cathedral), enrich the exhibition scheme by providing displays of rotating thematic selections of models. This according to the main thread of exhibitions within the calendar planned by the Committee of S.T.Art – Great Events of Pietrasanta. This is a further opportunity to highlight the models and allow everybody, adults and children, to linger and enjoy the creativity of the artists, to discover the ‘magic’ world of sculpture, and to reflect on the messages conveyed by the works.