The celebrations for the centenary of Federico Fellini’s birth continue in 2021, with the opening in spring of an international museum dedicated to the director in his hometown. Although it had a reputation back in the ’60s as the capital of one-size-fits-all tourism, Rimini is, in reality, a city that’s teeming with evocative sights and sounds. It’s a place that constantly seems on the verge of exploding with life. In his book Comments on Film, Fellini wrote that his clearest memories from his teen years in Rimini were mainly linked to events in nature, which he framed as being constantly and violently cinematographic. He enjoyed being a spectator and, sometimes, the instigator.
The image, including the conception and construction of his film sets, always played a central role in the director’s work. This is reflected in the architecture, installations, and multimedia content designed for the Federico Fellini International Museum. The idea of a museum without walls – a living space that’s experienced like an exchange between actor and director – makes it possible to somewhat blur the distinction between the exhibits and the city itself.
The museum extends outwards to encompass Fellini’s old neighborhood, drawing in Castel Sismondo, Piazza Malatesta, Palazzo Valloni, Piazzetta San Martino, and the Fulgor Cinema. Beginning this route at the 15th-century Castel Sismondo, visitors are welcomed by a reconstruction of one of Fellini’s figurines: Alberto Sordi from The White Sheik, who appears on a swing outside the castle’s guard house. From the perspective of its plasticity, the model in its recess leaves the façade completely free. Here, through a large opening, visitors can view the apsidal ceiling inside, whose soft, curving shape in this double-height space enhances the welcoming feel of the ticket office.
Exploring the spaces inside the castle, visitors become immersed in a dream of Fellini, with sequences of images, reconstructions, advertising, characters, sounds, drawings, costume designs, as well as the atmosphere created by the use of fog – an expressive element that Fellini often used. The vibration and density of the air in these spaces create dreamlike, shifting atmospheres that evoke all things mysterious.
Fellini’s cinema is not only perceived with the eyes but also through the ears. Reflecting this, besides the sound effects incorporated into castle’s installations, a sound trail has been created that, from Piazza Malatesta, leads visitors to Piazzetta San Martino, the next stop in the museum’s route. The square itself has been transformed into a kind of stage set. Extending from here to the Fulgor Cinema, a glass carpet will be laid that, as well as hosting a statue of the rhinoceros from And the Ship Sails On, will recall the sea of Rimini – or, more specifically, the colors that the director used in his drawings, collected in his Book of Dreams, to represent his hometown’s sea. The use of this strictly limited chromatic palette will fill the square with waves of cornflower blue, aquamarine green, and light blue.
The last stop on the route through this museum without walls is a place that was very special to Fellini: the Fulgor Cinema, where the director had his first encounter with Hollywood movies. The back of this 18th-century building has a porch area and a covered walkway that, via the narrow medieval street, connects to the main façade of the cinema around in Corso d’Augusto.
A major remodeling project has altered the interior, previously used as offices, to create museum galleries. The uppermost floor has been demolished to open a double-height space that offers views out through the building’s six roof terraces.
This new, large, almost metaphysical space can also be reached from the grand staircase, which runs parallel to the principal façade of the building, designed by Giuseppe Valadier. A transparent backdrop separates the top of the staircase from the adjoining double-height space, ushering visitors towards the bar area, which blends into an area with magic lanterns and another area with seating intended as a coworking space.
The new museum offers a range of services along with an extensive multimedia library, all right in the heart of Rimini, a city that, in Making a Film, Fellini wrote was “a dimension of memory.” It was also a place he recreated in Amarcord, reinventing some of its sights and scenes, while stealing images from real life to reproduce them in the sacred temple of Cinecittà Studios. The crucial role of the imagination – understood as an action upon the image with the ultimate aim of creating authentic emotion, even at the expense of the representation of reality itself – positions the director’s work close to that of the architect. And Fellini’s work comprises both precision and coded gestures, both aimed at eliciting emotion. It’s interesting to see how, during the creation of this complex project, which is now nearing completion, the museum has become a focal point around which numerous individuals and professionals have converged, all brought together by a common goal. Just like in the making of a film.
Architect: Lumiere & Co [capogruppo], Anteo, Studio Azzurro, Marco Bertozzi, Anna Villari, Federico Bassi e per il progetto delle architetture e degli allestimenti: Orazio Carpenzano
[coordinamento], Tommaso Pallaria, Alessandra Di Giacomo, Studio Dismisura, Federica Cenci, Andrea Parisella, Simone Leoni, Andrea Cappucci, Giulia Giorgia Tocco, Alessio Benni, Giuliana Briulotta, SETIN srlSRP, Engineering srl, CSG PALLADIO srl, Studio Leoni srl
Location: Rimini, Italy
Sketches by ©Orazio Carpenzano