The Prada Group, in accordance with the local authorities and the Superintendence for Art and Cultural Heritage, has expressed at the highest levels its commitment and mastery in restoration of the ancient, working wisely on important historic buildings and restoring palaces and monuments of Italian and international territories.
In addition to the sensitive restoration of the façade of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, on September 2016 has been recovered the mezzanine floor of the building dedicated to Pasticceria Marchesi - a 250 square meters surface with arch windows, which offer characteristic views of Ottagono’s frescoes and mosaic floors - and has also been restored the Prada Group building in Galleria, completed with the opening of Osservatorio, the new Fondazione Prada’s exhibition space dedicated to photography and visual languages.
The fifth and sixth floors of the building show the results of the renovation works that has made available an 800 sqm exhibition space on two levels.
FAI - Fondo Ambiente Italiano is a national non-profit foundation born in 1975 to preserve and promote natural, historic and artistic heritage. During the past few years, FAI - Fondo Ambiente Italiano has protected, restored and opened to the public important sites that embody Italian artistic and natural heritage.
The natural collaboration comes to life every time Prada inaugurates a new boutique in an Italian city. Here, FAI - Fondo Ambiente Italiano partners with the Group for a restoration aimed to open a dialogue with the local community.
Among the most significant restorations, Vasari’s Last Supper in Florence, the statues of the Academy of Fine Arts, the arcades of the Archiginnasio in Bologna, the creation of the new theatre curtains of Turin’s Teatro Regio.
FLORENCE, 2014 – 2016 – GIORGIO VASARI’S LAST SUPPER
Giorgio Vasari’s extraordinary Last Supper, painted on a wooden panel and dated 1546, was so severely damaged by the Arno river flooding in 1966 that it was left untouched.
The Laboratorio dell’Opificio delle Pietre Dure, in Florence, started in 2004 the delicate work of restoration, originally sponsored by the ordinary planning of the Ministry for Cultural and Environmental Heritage, through a special fund of Protezione Civile and by a fund managed by the Getty Foundation as part of the Panel Paintings Initiative. Since 2014, the Prada Group and FAI have contributed to reaching the final stages of the skillful and patient restoration of the painting.
On November 4, 2016, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Florence flood, the President of the Italian Republic, accompanied by the Minister for Cultural Heritage, the Mayor of Florence and Patrizio Bertelli, celebrated the return of the Last Supper to the Cenacle at Santa Croce in Florence, where it once again took up its original position inside the refectory.
This circumstance represented the occasion to emphasize the importance and exceptional nature of this achievement. It is an extraordinary story of studies, restoration and technological development, which made the return of a masterpiece to the world possible. Not only an important action for the safeguard of the artistic heritage, but also an opportunity to devise and implement innovative preservation techniques.
TURIN, 2014 - NEW THEATRE CURTAINS OF TURIN’S TEATRO REGIO
In 2014, thanks to the donation of the Group and of Fondo Ambientale Italiano, the Teatro Regio of Turin was equipped with a new, 48 m long by 10 m tall curtain, with an overall weight of 1450 kilos and a total opening width of 16 meters.
The high-tech design of the curtain allows both horizontal and vertical opening and closing, operations completed in just 5 and 3 seconds, respectively, allowing Italian and German-style curtain raisings and the more complicated French-style movement, which is a combination of the previous two. The iconic cherry red of its velvet reflects the color scheme chosen by architect Carlo Mollino, who designed the theatre inaugurated in 1973, after a fire destroyed the seventeenth-century building in 1936.
BARI AND CERRATE, 2013 - FRANCISCAN SAINTS AND A WELL WORN BY TIME
In Puglia, the Prada Group helped FAI restoring a fifteenth-century polyptych by Antonio Vivarini preserved in the Pinacoteca Provinciale of Bari, and the well of Santa Maria in Cerrate, on the outskirts of Lecce. The five remaining panels of the polyptych (three panels of the upper portion are conserved in the Diocesan Museum of Andria) date back to 1467. The works are prized for their fine artistic quality, with subtle hues and slender figures, among which we can recognize three Franciscan Saints belonging to the same religious order of the Convent of Santa Maria in Vetere of Andria, from which the polyptych comes. The back of the panels contains charcoal sketches made by the workshop of Vivarini, if not by the artist himself. The renovation phases included the full sanitizing of the panels to restore the original colors by removing oxidized paint that had dimmed the intensity and brightness of the original colors.
It was probably in the twelfth century that the Normans built the complex of Santa Maria in Cerrate Abbey, now owned by the provincial administration of Lecce. The well located by the church, in the middle of the yard and facing the twelfth-century cloister, was built in 1585 by the Ospedale degli Incurabili, which gained possession of the complex in the sixteenth century. The date is inscribed on the architrave. Over the years, the well has suffered major material damage from erosion, which has subsequently modified the sculptural and decorative patterns and opened fissures in the structure. The restoration work repaired the serious damage caused by the well’s long exposure to the elements.
PADUA, 2012 - NEW LIGHT ON ANCIENT ART
The Sacello di San Prosdocimo, built in the fifth century A.D. and dedicated to the first bishop of Padua, is the oldest place of Christian worship in the city, now a side chapel included in the Basilica di Santa Giustina.
Thanks to the project “Let’s shed new light on San Prosdocimo” it was possible to fit the place with a lighting system that posed no threat to the colors of the frescoes and mosaics. Besides contributing to the correct preservation of the paintings, the new light also enhanced the perception of what is actually an extremely powerful and evocative architectural design. The project saw the collaboration of the Superintendence for the Architectural and Landscape Heritage and for the Historical, Artistic and Ethno-anthropological Heritage.
BOLOGNA, 2010 - THE HEART OF THE ACADEMY BEATS ONCE MORE
On the occasion of the opening of a new store in Galleria Cavour, Prada, in partnership with FAI and the Superintendence for the Historical, Artistic and Ethno-Anthropological Heritage of Bologna, supported the restoration of four statues at the Accademia di Belle Arti and three arches situated in Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio. The four gypsum statues, which date back to the eighteenth century, are part of the original collection with which Count Luigi Ferdinando Marsili founded the Accademia di Belle Arti in Bologna in 1710. The original sculptures are Greek and Roman statues currently exhibited at the Uffizi, in Florence, and at the Archaeological Museum in Naples, and symbolize Ercole Farnese, Flora Farnese, a prancing satyr and a group of warriors.
Furthermore, the Prada Group contributed to the restoration of three sixteenth-century arches at Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio, the former seat of the University of Bologna, which currently houses the historical university library with its more than one million tomes. The arches, decorated between 1625 and 1628, include the monument to Bartolomeo Bonaccorsi (1625), the student emblems (1627-1628) and the monument dedicated to the jurist Francesco Barbadori (1628).
Ca’ Corner della Regina, the first example of non-baroque palazzo of its time, was built between 1724 and 1728 by Domenico Rossi for the family of San Cassiano, on the ruins of the palazzo where Caterina Corner, future queen of Cyprus, was born.
The restoration of the building, suspended in 1995 by the public administration, started again in 2011 thanks to a concession from Musei Civici Veneziani that granted Fondazione Prada rights over the entire structure. In December 2012 the palazzo becomes the permanent Venetian headquarters of Fondazione Prada, with restrictions on the intended use of the building only as ‘museum space’.
The preservation and repair program of Ca’ Corner della Regina, promoted by Fondazione Prada, has been drawn up in line with the directives of the Soprintendenza per i Beni Architettonici e Paesaggistici di Venezia e della Laguna (Venice and Lagoon Landmark and Landscape Preservation Authority). The first stages had the primary aim of securing and preserving the surfaces of artistic and architectural value, the study of all the inappropriate equipment plants, the maintenance of the wooden doors, windows and shutters, the removal of non-original partition walls and the reclamation of spaces that have been used as offices and service rooms. The completion of this first phase led to the re-opening of part of the palazzo, i.e. the ground floor, the first and second floors, the mezzanine and the main floor.
As for the preservation of the decorative apparatus, the ornamental frescoes, stuccos and stonework in the portego and eight rooms on the building’s principal piano nobile have been secured. Afterwards, work was carried out to consolidate and secure the surfaces of the mezzanine, the restoration of which brought to light a fresco in the central hall, previously hidden, in 2019. On the second floor, a restoration project focused on the walls and the stucco and marmorino veneziano decorations of the side rooms.
The greatest challenge in turning the ancient into the modern while preserving its timeless appearance and elegance has been created the first direct-expansion condensing plant in the world, using the water of the lagoon and fitted with a summer/winter humidity control system. Adopting this strategy allowed us to limit the invasiveness of the plant on a listed building, eliminate the environmental impact of visible plants on the roofs, eliminate sound pollution in a city with very low background noise, eliminate carbon dioxide on-site emissions and reduce remote emissions thanks to the use of electric energy-powered machinery.
Prada Rong Zhai is the historic 1918 residence located in the heart of Shanghai, inaugurated on October 12, 2017, after a meticulously restoration subsidized by the Prada Group. The building is designed as a flexible space dedicated to various cultural activities organized by the Prada Group in China.