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From one museum to another: the story of an institution

The establishment of a museum at Bastia dates back to an initiative of the Society of Historic and Natural Science of Corsica (Société des Sciences Historiques et Naturelles de la Corse) in 1898. In the early 20th century, the town took over the museum, transferring it to the Marbeuf barracks in 1922, when it was called the “Corsican Museum of Bastia”. It was looted during the occupation and lost a large part of its collections and all its archives.

In 1952 the Ethnographic Museum of Corsica succeeded to it and was set up in the Genoese Governors’ Palace. Rural ethnography was its main theme, but it also took on the remaining collections of the previous museum, so the subject matter was diverse. The collections continued to grow, but the presentation gradually became outdated and the museum did not manage to cater for the new demands of the public. It was thus decided to renovate and extend it by the rebuilding of the parts of the palace which had been destroyed in the war.

The History Museum of Bastia

In 2004, the new scientific and cultural programme for the museum was established. It is based on the history of the town.

The permanent exhibition has three main themes: town planning, the political, social and economic influence of the town and its rich intellectual and artistic heritage. Bastia, the capital of Genoese Corsica, remains the most extensive urban area of the period. It is also the town with the most numerous baroque religious buildings in the island. Finally, it remains the most successful example of 19th century urban and industrial expansion in Corsica. These political and economic assets naturally provided it with an intellectual elite whose influence spread all over Corsica.

The project to renovate and extend the Governors’ Palace, initially awarded to Andrea Bruno, an architect from Turin, was taken over in 2004 by the Parisian agency CPLUSD, (Daniel Cléris and Jean-Michel Daubourg, architects). Its objective is to restore the old parts of this historic monument, to rebuild, in contemporary style, the north and west wings which were partly destroyed in the Second World War and to adapt the whole building to its use as a museum. The surface area is 8, 213 m² of which 1,345 m² is new construction.