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MUST - Historical Museum

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Where modernity enlightens history

There are places which shelter memory of time.
Foreshortening of the past where ancient fascinations come back to life and melt into the present.
MUST – Historical Museum of the City of Lecce – is one of those ‘cases’, whose treasures are nowadays accessible by the public after a long restoring process.

Once used as the monastery of Saint Claire, today this beautiful monumental complex is a museum meant not only to tell the history of Lecce but also to display modern and contemporary art, in the airy spaces of the ground floor gallery.
Situated in the heart of Lecce’s historical center, next to Saint Claire church and to the ancient Roman Theater, the former monastery was founded in 1410 by friar Tommaso Ammirato, who belonged to the order of Conventual Franciscans, bishop of Lecce form 1429 until 1438. According to another hypothesis, the foundation should be attributed to the wealthy Antonio di Giovanni de Ferraris, who gave to Clarisses’ order some of his estates and all his personal properties.

Museo Lecce

From the scanty evidence we have, we can deduce that there were 20 cells, three dorms, a dining hall and a pantry. Through the centuries the monastery has been massively restored and it seems that Clarisses stayed until 1866. Used more recently as the seat of the Revenue Office, today the building is open to the public with some remarkably beautiful exhibition rooms, where the white light of lime melts with the golden shades of Lecce stone. The wide vaulted hall surprise the visitor with its majesty and wraps him up in the bright rays coming from the inner courtyards.
The finicky restoration has enhanced the already refined architectural elements within windows’ lintels as well as within the cornices of the external cloisters.

The reopening of Must has given the town of Lecce an important place for cultural aggregation, where the historical insight of the town meets with his current vitality. MUST will be indeed the Historical Museum of the City of Lecce in the first floor rooms, with sections dedicated to evidence of several ages, from the Messapians’ time to the Roman time, going up to the XVI and the XX centuries. In order for history to keep talking about itself, while, on the ground floor, MUST is already a contemporary art gallery, with a permanent exhibition by local carver Cosimo Carlucci and another exhibition – the first of a long series – of photographic art by the US artist Jenny Okun.
MUST – Historical Museum of the City of Lecce. History enlightened by modernity