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History

The Ex-Magnolfi Institute in Prato belongs to the architectural compound of Piazza della Pietà (Piety Square) area and it is an integral part of Chiesa di Santa Maria della Pietà (Church of St.Mary of Piety) built in 1618 and established like a parish in 1787 by Mons. Scipione dei Ricci, at the time Bishop in Prato and Pistoia.

 

In 1669 the Carmelitani Scalzi (Barefoot Carmelite Friars) of Etruria took possession of the church and started the project and the construction of new wings of building (some of those left unfinished ) for the realization of the cloister.

 

The cloister was finished in 1777 but in 1818 the Carmelitani Scalzi were transfered to San Francesco Cloister in Prato and the structure was abandoned over twenty years till 1838, when Gaetano Magnolfi asked the Bishop of Prato and Pistoia for it and got the Convento della Pietà (Cloister of Piety) to host orphans and poor kids.

 

Gaetano Magnolfi took possession of the ex- cloister precisely on the 8th of December 1838, transfering there the Orphanage he was already running in Palazzo Gatti (Gatti Palace) in Prato.

 

The delivery of the ex-cloister of Carmelitani Scalzi to Magnolfi involved a general project of buildup, leading up in the following years to the construction of lodging for teachers and one floor of new small bedrooms for pupils.

 

After the necessary renovation and extension of the structure spaces to allow the construction of shops for a craft applied learning, some downright studios and workshops were realized and the building became an educational school for the orphans in several branches of knowledge.

 

Magnolfi really carried on a very innovative project at that time, therefore he believed it was necessary to offer the poor young men the chance to learn a craft, in order to be able to support themselves and find an employment once they left the institute.

 

The Orphanage didn't receive much approval inside the local community because Prato artisans were worried about a damage to their workshops, on the other hand it was much appreciated out of town because of its ideological innovation.

 

To strenghten incomes and financial resources, considering that the subventions and offers were insufficient, Gaetano Magnolfi bought the Cartiera della Briglia (Paper Factory in La Briglia) from Hall Brothers and obtained the permission to enlarge the rooms of the structure from the Casa Reale (Royal House). The Royal House also authorized him to take the necessary wood from the Foreste Reali (Royal Forests) and the iron from the Regia Magona (Royal Ironworks).

 

In 1844 Magnolfi bought the Tipografia Giachetti (Printing Works Giachetti), well-know all over Italy and abroad, and transfered them inside the Institute, in order to continue the business as well as to have this new kind of workshop-school, finding a trade or income assuring the Institute itself a complete autonomy.

 

In 1845, thanks to the agreement with the Società Anonima (Anonymus Limited Company) for the construction of the railroad track Maria Antonia through Florence and Pistoia, they arranged laboratories and workshops inside the Institute for the construction and maintainance of the carriages rolling stock required by the railway.

 

 

The craftamen were coming from more parts to perform their works inside the Institute; some downright shops were created and the artisans duly carried out their trade with external customers, having however the duty to occupy the orphans like apprentices, giving them both training and salary.

 

When Gaetano Magnolfi passed away (1867), the Orphanage had already reached its financial independence and the managers went on the Magnolfi's humanaitarian intent to enlarge the Foundation.

 

Gaetano Guasti succeeded Magnolfi, carrying on the buildup work of the structures, building the Theather (1871) and the new classrooms on Via Gobetti (Gobetti Street).

 

The Theater was built in 1871 on the back-end of the workshops, while the rooms were built in 1881 closing the cloister gardens.

 

In 1934 the Officine Gini (Gini Workshops) bought the property that was gradually losing its power and return since the construction of the railway line Florence-Bologna and the presence of the natural barrier of Bisenzio river had contributed to a greater and greater closure of the Piety area.

 

The Institute was hosting about 90 boys coming from poor families or orphans (minimum age 6 years, maximum 18 years) and went on its activity until 1978, when it stopped its work.

 

During the Laboratorio Teatrale di Luca Ronconi (Theather Workshop by Luca Ronconi) taking place in Prato from 1975 to 1977, the Magnolfi building was the headquarter for the preparation work of the Calderon by Pasolini and for the set-up of the Bacchantes by Euripides. After the Ronconi Workshop, the Magnolfi Insistute was left to its own device.

 

By the end of the 80's it was started the case of a renovation work of the structure to transform it in a town culture centre.

 

The renovation work of Magnolfi Nuovo culture centre had the purpose to adapt the palace to new culture uses, as well as the end to functionally recover an historical and artistic property being left in a state of abandon and decay since many years, renovating the old theater and in general all the space, planning them again from a new point of view, focusing the concept of education, testing and production in the range of arts, theater and music.

 

Particularly important is the renovation of the vault decorations and the theater stage committed to the Fresco Workshop Vainella “Laboratorio per Affresco di Vainella” .

 

Really, the restoration of theater paintings became the focus of a culture project based on the salvage of the aesthetic values inspired by the tradition of Prato decorative arts in the period in-between the end of 1700 and the beginning of 1900.

 

Magnolfi Nuovo is now a cultural centre originally started up by a project of the Department of Culture of Prato Municipality in partnership with the National Academy of Dramatics ''S.D'Amico'' in Rome and the Foundation of the Resident Theater of Tuscany Metastasio, with the goal to create a place of study, education and production in the field of music, theater and scenery arts in general.

 

The Centre is having at disposal a Theater welcoming the program of the Department of Culture and of the Foundation Metastasio. The space is also available for the realization of other performances. The Theater hall and the set can accomodate up to 98 spectators.

Logo Magnolfi Nuovo Mini

Via Gobetti 79 - 59100 Prato (PO) Italy

Tel: 0574 44 29 06 - fax: 0574 27 311

Comune di Prato, Assessorato alla Cultura

Copyright © Comune di Prato

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