Newsletter of the Centro

New Series,  no. 8 –   May-June 2005

                                              Special Edition                                    


edited by Dario Manfredi and Rossana Piccioli


Mulazzo, May 7, 2005: reopening of the Centro di Studi Malaspiniani “Alessandro Malaspina” and inauguration of the Archivio-Museo dei Malaspina.



On Saturday May 7, 2005, at Mulazzo, the inauguration of the Archivio-Museo dei Malaspina took place in the recently restructured premises of the Centro di Studi Malaspiniani “Alessandro Malaspina”.

Left: The 18th-Century Room, dedicated to Alexandro Malaspina.

                                                            B elow: the actual inauguration


The work, initiated in January 2004, is expected to cost a total of 150,000 Euros, almost half provided by the European Union and the rest by the Province of Mass-Carrara, the Mountain Community of Lunigiana and GAL. Today, with completely new furnishings and likewise a new set of purposes for the use of its space, the Centro looks much different from in the past.

IThe new exhibition space of the archive and museum is divided into three rooms adjacent to the Auditorium. The first presents the theme “Lunigiana and its Lords"; the second “The Malaspinas of Mulazzo and Azzo Giacinto III”; and the third, the largest, is devoted to “Alexandro Malaspina and his Time.” The latter contains original documents, prints, eighteenth-century measuring instruments and historical items connected with the Navigator. The scholarly development of the new museum space is in the hands of Dario Manfredi and Rossana Piccioli, who also prepared the exhibition.

The renovated heritage building made up of the Centro di Studi Malaspiniani and the new Archive and Museum of the Malaspinas, is among the largest and most advanced in Lunigiana in terms of its monitoring and security systems, and supplies a vital point of reference for research into Alexandro Malaspina and his ancient lineage in general.

In 2003 the new municipal administration of Mulazzo, on the basis of considerations urged by Dario Manfredi, agreed on the need to create, alongside the already-existing Centro di Studi, some spaces designed for the public at large, rather than for specialists. It decided, therefore, to bring into being an archive and museum, and the project has now become a reality: on the morning of May 7 the Mayor of Mulazzo, Sandro Donati, presided over the ceremony of cutting the ribbon, thus opening officially the renovated cultural institution. The Saint Cecilia band of Bagnone gave musical emphasis to the moment by playing the national anthem.

The event drew participation from many members of the public; many friends and scholars, from Spain, Peru, France and Canada. In the Centro's auditorium, the Mayor as well as representatives of the local bodies that have contributed to the realization of the project presented their good wishes.

Also present was the marquis Vieri Torrigiani Malaspina, who, referring to his surname, expressed the hope that the Mulazzo Centro will become the main depository and conservational archive for documents relating to the two branches of the Malaspinas. Dario Manfredi, accepting with gratitude his good wishes, emphasised that the completion of the building has been possible thanks also to the concrete contributions of private citizens, first among whom are the Mengoli and Rosi families, Professor Franco Bonatti, and others who prefer to remain anonymous, all of whom concur in the wish that there is created at Mulazzo a true Domus Malaspiniana, a worthy custodian of the memory of this illustrious family.

Rossana Piccioli, Co-director of the Centro, ended the series of speeches by illustrating the museological criteria adopted in the setting-up of the Archive and Museum, in line with standard technical and scientific norms. Immediately afterwards, the public was able to visit the exhibition rooms and the renovated Library of the Centro.

During the afternoon session, presided over by Ambassador Bernardino Osio, Secretary-General of the Latin Union of Paris, a few words were offered by scholars and representatives of of cultural institutions connected with Alexandro Malaspina. John Black, of Malaspina University College in Nanaimo (BC) recalled the bonds between the two institutions, and invited the management of the Centro to the inauguration of his Alexandro Malaspina Research Centre, which will be held in Nanaimo in June. The Peruvian Jorge Ortiz Sotelo brought greetings from the Thalassa Association of Maritime and Naval History, of which he is secretary; and then, on a personal note, presented the Centro with two Peruvian coins minted in the time of Alexandro Malaspina and a sample of the facsimile edition of the “Mercurio Peruano,” a now-rare magazine which was published in Lima at the end of the 18th century, and to which Alexandro Malaspina was one of the subscribers.

Mercedes Palau, of the Real Accademia Hispano-Americana, donated some volumes on American cartography to the Library of the Centro. The Spanish-American composer José Luis Grecok donated the score one of his compositions, still unpublished, inspired by the Malaspina Expedition. Blanca Sáiz brought greetings from the Hakluyt Society in London (which recently published the English translation of the Journal of Malaspina's voyage) and donated to the Centro two precious Napoleonic miniatures signed by Paul Delaroche.

Below: John Black, Director of the Alexandro Malaspina Research Centre, in Nanaimo, BC, Canada.

At the end of the presentations, the multimedia CD-rom “Alessandro Malaspina. Il Tempo, i Luoghi, la Vita, produced by Rossana Piccioli, was officially launched.

The proceedings were closed by Dario Manfredi with the words: "It has not been easy to build a museum in less than 70 square metres; if we had had morer space we would have rescued from collectors and from safety deposit boxes many other materials deserving of exhibition, but I hope that in the future we succeed in finding a solution to this problem also. For now we cannot be other than very satisfied with our day: everyone who came praised the new Archive and Museum.

"The presence of scholars from the countries of the European Union and from America, who came to Mulazzo at their own expense, is abundant compensation for the poor local participation, even if it is sad to note that Lunigiana seems to tend more and more towards a provincialism that will always hold it back, and never more so than in the current era of globalization."


Nanaimo (BC, Canada), June 23, 2005: Inauguration of the new AlexandrO Malaspina Research Centre.


On June 23 in Nanaimo (BC, Canada), at the main campus of Malaspina University College, the Alexandro Malaspina Research Centre was officially inaugurated. The Centre conducts interdisciplinary research into the life and works of Alexandro Malaspina, including the translation of his works into English, and aims at making this important character better known in the English-speaking world.

The brief but moving ceremony was introduced by John Black, Director of the Centre. Then Ellen White and a colleague, elders of the Snuneymuxw First Nation, sang a propitiatory song of peace and prosperity. After that came words from Richard Johnston, President of the University, Don Hubbard, Chair of the Board of the same, and Dario Manfredi. The latter, in bringing greetings from the Centro di Studi Malaspiniani in Mulazzo, presented to the library of the new fraternal Centre a collection of Malaspinian books published in Italy and in Spain. Alex Malaspina, guest of honour, made the final speech and then, with his wife Doris, cut the ribbon at the site of the new Centre, to applause from all present. The participation of several Canadian scholars, including Robin Inglis, Barry Gough, John Crosse, Nick Doe and Ana María Donat, encouraged a profitable exchange of ideas on future research projects.

Alex and Doris Malaspina opening the new
Alexandro Malaspina Research Centre

Centro di Studi Malaspiniani “Alessandro Malaspina” – Mulazzo , Massa-Carrara, Italia