At the end of the 90s, Giulio Bargellini, founder of OVA – leading industry in Italy and Europe in the field of emergency lighting – decides to enhance his collection of artworks, paintings and sculptures and to create an art museum as a centre for documentation, research and promotion of the Italian art generations of the twentieth century.
While looking for an appropriate space, Bargellini decides to acquire and restore the old silo of Pieve di Cento, an industrial building from 1933 once used to store grain. The silo is ideal to start the museum project: on the one hand it offers the opportunity to protect and enhance a building in a serious state of deterioration, but with great symbolic value for the local community and the agrarian history of the province of Bologna; on the other hand, it is a large empty container with a size, volume, architectural structure and territorial accessibility perfectly suited to become a exhibit space.
The restoration and transformation of the silo is commissioned to Giuseppe Davanzo, a well-known architect whose work was influenced by great masters of Italian architecture such as Scarpa, Albini and Samonà. The transformation project wants to preserve the volume of the silo as much as possible, adding a second construction with a large basement and a new glass tower which gives access to reception, office spaces, cafeteria and bookshop and exhibition spaces. Then, to confer a highly symbolic and communicative value to the building and to ensure more coherence between the shell and the new exhibition area, the exterior walls of the ‘new box’ are painted with a dominant blue tint: it appears compact from afar and becomes tactile and variable while approaching.
After the first core opened in 2000, the museum expanded a second time between 2005 and 2006 with a new volume annexed to the outdoor staircase, and a third time in 2015, with the construction of a three-story building and a large panoramic terrace.
Outdoor takes place a Sculpture Garden, which anticipates the rich collection of artworks visible inside, while around the perimeter of the museum a great ceramic mosaic artwork titled ‘Constellations’ is designed to highlight the variety of themes and artistic movements collected at MAGI’900.
Once inside, the rooms are designed according to thematic sections with paintings and sculptures by many historical masters of the twentieth century and contemporary authors.