San Francesco Palace – Domodossola

Palazzo San Francesco is one of the most fascinating palaces in Domodossola. It was built along the outer walls of a magnificent church dating back to 1200 and dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi.
Today, Palazzo San Francesco has retained all its splendour in its new role after being painstakingly restored and converted into a museum, a project that took several years to complete. The palace’s architecture is one of a kind and the civic museum collections inside play off one another in perfect harmony, offering the public a synergistic view of art, history and contemporaneity.
The collections in Palazzo San Francesco cover three floors, in which intriguing, prestigious exhibits are displayed.
On the ground floor, the thirteenth-century Franciscan church hosts temporary exhibitions, while the first floor holds the Natural Science Museum and the second holds the Picture Gallery, the Archaeological section, Religious Art and a selection of drawings.
The Civic Museums are the result of a comprehensive restoration and recovery initiative that has led to thousands of exhibits, furnishings, sculptures, engravings, taxidermy animals and minerals being brought back to the public’s eye.
Palazzo San Francesco is now a combination of many museums that tell the story of a land at the border, facing Italy on one side and the bordering countries on the other, namely Switzerland and France.

Ground floor
Temporary exhibitions
Incanto e disincanto. La forza delle idee – click here for more information
Curated by Antonio D’Amico
Until 31 December 2021

First floor
Natural Science Museum
On the first floor, visitors enter the Natural Science Museum with an abundant selection of large, medium and small stuffed taxidermy animals, an important collection of minerals, including those of the scholar Giorgio Spezia, an accurate stratigraphy of Sempione, a botanical section, with a specific focus on the Ossola Valley species, and entomological, malacological, compared anatomy and a few interesting organic exhibits.
Nature, with its processes and life cycles, is the common theme shared by all the pieces on display, a relationship that, in Palazzo San Francesco, is exalted through contemporary art. Visitors may wander through a series of unusual perspectives in a fluid space blurring the lines between content and container, always multi-varied, in which the walls, thanks to the colours and permanent installations by the artist Gianluca Quaglia, recreate all the splendour of the slow passage of time, from day to night, as dawn and dusk alternate continuously, culminating in the magic of a starry sky.

Second floor
Archaeological Section – Picture Gallery – Religious Art – Drawings
The second floor was designed to be a space in motion, in which visitors come into contact with art in all its most intimate facets, from the distant origins of human identity in the archaeological section to the gallery of paintings and drawings dating back to the end of the fifteen hundreds to the nineteen hundreds, made by the artists who populated the Vigezzo Valley, known as the “Valley of Painters”.
In the elegant archaeological section, visitors may admire artefacts of various eras and cultures, like Ancient Egypt, pre-history, the Lepontic Age, or the earliest inhabitants of Domodossola, and Roman times. Most importantly, the precious artefacts found in the tomb of the Ossola warrior Claro Fuenno have returned to Domodossola and are on display for the first since they were meticulously restored.
The religious art includes liturgical furnishings in fabric, silver and gold and a marvellous collection of painted glass, engravings and multi-coloured wood sculptures from the local area and from the sculptural origins of the church of Saint Francis in stone.
The wood panels custom-designed by the architect Paolo Carlo Rancati display 33 drawings that the Foundation received from local donors at the end of the eighteen hundreds. They form a prestigious collection of drawings spanning the end of the sixteenth century to the start of the twentieth.
In the centre of the second floor is the Picture Gallery of Vigezzo Valley artists, organised into the three schools of the Ossola Valley: that of Craveggia, that of Buttogno and the Rossetti Valentini di Santa Maria Maggiore School of Fine Arts. A visit of the museum begins with the large altar pieces by Giuseppe Mattia Borgnis who, in the middle of the eighteenth century, brought the Ossola painting style to England, and those of Lorenzo Peretti, senior, a refined portrait artist who captured daily life. The work of patriotic Giuseppe Rossetti forms the heart of the collection, an artist who gave the Domodossola municipality’s collection of paintings its start.
The section dedicated to the pieces by Carlo Gaudenzio Lupetti, Bernardino Peretti, Antonio Maria Cotti and Giovanni Baratta is Romantic, as in the eighteen hundreds these painters developed a deep sensitivity bringing them closer to the Belle Époque of the 1920s.

The Gian Giacomo Galletti Civic Museums are documented and illustrated in a guidebook published by Sagep Editori.
Gian Giacomo Galletti Civic Museums
Palazzo San Francesco
Piazza Ruminelli 1, Domodossola (VB)
Info and reservations
+39 338 5029591 – cultura@comune.domodossola.vb.it

Winter opening hours
16 October – 31 December 2021
Saturday and Sunday 10/12 – 15/18

Ideal for
Everybody
You will discover
Culture, traditions and folklore
Not-to-be-missed
Rainy day?
History and art
Hidden treasures
Ideal for
Everybody
You will discover
Culture, traditions and folklore
Not-to-be-missed
Rainy day?
History and art
Hidden treasures
IAT di Domodossola
Piazza Matteotti (inside the railway station)
28845 Domodossola (VB)
See map

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