The Museo Lapidario del Duomo conserves extremely precious sculptural finds which demostrates the history of the Cathedral in its long centuries of life.
After the pleasant little garden called ‘of the canoniche’, where you can see part of the ancient edifice as it was before the construction of via Lanfranco, the door on the left leads to a big room entirely filled with works of art.
On the right, many marble slabs are Roman and dates back to the I century AD. On the wall in front of the entrance, other marble slabs from the church wich stood in the IX century where now there is the Catherdal (they are decorated with wonderful floral patterns of the early Middle Ages).
In the middle of the room, the great altar which was over San Geminiano’s tomb in the crypt of the Cathedral from the Romanesque period to the XIX century.
On the other walls, works by the Campionesi sculptors (Enrico, Ottaviano and Anselmo, in Modena from 1244) and bas-reliefs of modern times.
The second room is occupied by spiral columns, an astonishing capital with birds, a column-bearing lion and the world-famous set of the metopes. Since 1948, the copies are on the Cathedral (you can see them on the outside of the roof). Francesco Arcangeli called them ‘metopes’, as they recalls the archaic Greece. They are precious evidence of the European artistic renaissance after the Middle Ages, in the XI century. It seems that during the centuries of the ‘dark’ period the rules of sculpture were forgotten, and here in Modena everything began another time, from the most ancient forms of the early Greece. Many metopes represents monsters, maybe taken from the Liber Monstruorum which was very famous at the time and told the stories of those beings living in the remote parts of the world. From the right, there are: the Potta of Modena, a man with long hair, a mermaid, a man eating fish, a boy, two male heads, a being with three arms, the ‘antipodes’, a girl and the Psillo dragon.
The Museo del Duomo was created during the great Jubilee of 2000 and it is a significant part of the Treasure of the Cathedral of Modena.
In the first room: a Madonna by Francesco Vellani (XVIII century) in a silver frame; a candelabrum and a monumental crucifix of silver (1655); paintings by Bernardino Cervi (1620) with Christ’s Appearance.
In the second room: extraordinanry portable altar of 1106 in golden silver, set with precious stone and lions’ feet; a silver evangelistary of the XI-XII century; episcopal symbols of Bishops Giuseppe Amici and Bartolomeo Santo Quadri; a copper statue of San Geminiano by Paruoli (1376) from the Porta Regia in the Catherdal; San Geminiano by Bartolomeo Schedoni (1606), which is the most famous image of the Saint; holy vessels of the first XIX century; a book with illuminations and chants; an altar frontal of the XVI century; paintings by Francesco Stringa with San Geminiano and the Virgin (1685).
In the third and fourth room: liturgical vestments of the XVIII century; Chirst worked in ivory of the XVIII century; two wonderful processional crosses of the XIV century; an altar cloth donated by Pope Pius IX in 1865.
In the fifth room: two tapestries made in Brussels in about 1560 representing the Flood and the Eden; a wooden statue of Saint John of the XV century of the Donatello school; monstrances and reliquaries (of the Cross, Magdalene and others).
In the sixth room: the permanent exhibition of some of the precious manuscripts of the nearby Capitular Archives. The Leges Salicae dates back to the IX-X century, the Relatio de innovatione ecclesiae Sancti Geminiani ac de translatione eius beatissimi corporis (1106) is a wonderfully illustrated story on the construction of the Cathedral: this book is really famous in its detailed description, and it is reproduced in almost every Italian Art book. Other manuscripts are periodically exhibited in the musem.
[Images from 1 to 11 and 17 courtesy of the Museum, from its Facebook page]