A museum of Egyptian splendour
With 6,500 exhibits and more than 26,000 items stacked away in warehouses, the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities of Turin is one of the world’s top museums devoted entirely in Egypt. It is also one of the busiest museums in Italy. Founded in 1824, it has always been housed in the prestigious Collegio dei Nobili, which has remained virtually unchanged since it was first built in the second half of the 17th century. But with its three above ground floors occupying an entire block in one of the most picturesque corners of the historic centre of Turin, the building had become severely outdated and unfit to house such a large collection.
As part of a wide-ranging redevelopment plan aimed at improving the city’s museums and cultural offerings, the foundation that has been running the Egyptian museum since 2004 launched a competition for the renovation project. This was won in 2008 by a group led by Turin-based practice Isolarchitetti, including architects Carlo Aymonino and Paolo Marconi (who died in 2013), production designer Dante Ferretti and the engineering firm ICIS.
The criteria underpinning this complex, multidisciplinary project are based on respect for the building and its history. Work began in November 2012 and is scheduled for completion in early 2015. The original structures are used to house the exhibits, while all the service areas (ticket office, bathrooms, offices, cafeteria, bookshop, library and cloakroom) will be moved to more recently built sections and to the new spaces currently under construction. When completed, the two historic east- and north-facing wings will be devoted entirely to the collection. The change of location of the Sabauda Gallery in spring 2013 freed up spaces and effectively doubled the available exhibition space. The Schiaparelli wing, which in addition to the internal courtyard also serves as a backdrop to the main entrance and closes off the building on the west side, will serve as a distribution element for visitors, who from here will be able to take the escalators down to the ticket office or up to the library and cafeteria.
The centrepiece of the project is the construction of an entirely new modern underground floor of more than 1,000 sq.m, which was completed and opened in August 2013. When fully operational, it will house the ticket office, cloakroom, bookshop and visitor toilets and will be the starting point for a new exhibition itinerary extending downwards over three floors and a mezzanine. On entering, visitors will immediately be struck by the dynamic angled light shafting down from the two large square skylights, the expanding effect of the mirrored ceiling and the sixteen luminous columns that stand out from the dark backdrop of the stone-effect walls and floors, clad with elegant large-format porcelain tiles (30×60 cm and 60×60 cm, Percorsi Extra series from Ceramiche Keope’s In&Out line). The part of the project completed to date reveals great attention to detail and continuity of materials, both in the busiest areas and in the less visible spaces such as the bathrooms.
To avoid having to close the museum to the public, the project is envisaged as a work in progress and will remain so through to completion. For this purpose, a new exhibit has been temporarily set up on the underground floor, while the upper levels have been closed and will reopen in a year’s time as the new Egyptian museum, at last providing the city with a modern and totally renovated museum.
Ceramiche Keope, Percorsi Extra, In&Out
30x60, 60x60 cm
Pietra di Faedis
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): < 0,1%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): compliant
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): < 145 mm3
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): > 1500 N
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R11 C
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): compliant