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Il Museo del Trasparente

Casa Croci, a small 19th-century architectural gem, will house the Museo del Trasparente di Mendrisio ( Mendrisio Illuminated Paintings Museum) from 12 April 2017. This will be the first exhibition space devoted to one of the region’s most distinctive and extraordinary artistic and historic legacies: an age-old tradition that has led UNESCO to candidate the Historical Processions of Holy Week as world heritage associated with “living traditions”.

First introduced in around 1790 by a local Servite friar, Antonio Maria Baroffio (1732­-1798), and produced by a painter from Rovio, Giovanni Battista Bagutti (1742-1823), the trasparenti represent a unique instance of a blend of the Enlightenment culture with the Baroque tradition of temporary structures, featuring an exceptionally modern technique and great communicative efficacy.

The new museum in Casa Croci provides an opportunity to observe these wonderful objects close-up, to learn about how they are made and to find out more about the various different types of this unusual decorative item. Trasparenti are illuminated nocturnal paintings used to embellish the ancient town along the route of the Maundy Thursday and Good Friday processions, a much-loved folk tradition among the local people that has changed very little over the years. On procession days they attract tens of thousands of people from all over the canton of Ticino and from other countries, drawn by the scenic beauty and intensity of the celebrations.

The intimate spaces of Casa Croci will display twenty-six of these objects, including lanterns, instruments of the Passion, sails, lesenes, balconies, shrines and the central part ‒ complete with pillars ‒ of one of the ten large doors, in an elegant yet understated display. Thanks to the slender structures and a complex lighting system, developed specifically for the occasion, each small room has been transformed into a kind of niche where the trasparente can be admired at close range.