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30 May 2022 - 30 May 2022

12:00PM - 1:00PM


  • Free

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Italian Studies at Durham will host an online conversation about the museum heritage of the Italian colonial past with the curators of the Former Colonial Museum of Rome. Please share with those you think might be interested.

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The Former Colonial Museum of Rome and its Decolonisation

The Italian colonial past always represented a problematic issue for Italian culture and institutions. After the dissolution of the empire, the Italian colonial experience remained mostly hidden from public discourse and its heritage was not faced on a public stage. Nevertheless, elements of this heritage are currently disseminated through the Italian public space: the former Colonial Museum of Rome – in Italian ‘Museo dell’Africa Italiana’ – was one of these elements. The collections of this museum were composed of more than 12.000 objects collected in Libya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea and the Aegean Sea and were used to celebrate the Italian colonial enterprise. These objects are heterogeneous: for instance, there are ethnographic objects, like amphoras, musical instruments, clothes, artistic objects, with various colonial paintings, and archaeological and scientific collections that contain busts, statues, maps, scale models etc. Due to their role, the museum and its collections can therefore become a tool to critically question the Italian colonial heritage and memories. These materials are, nowadays, at the centre of a project of participatory museography named ‘Unveiled Storages’. This project aims to develop a process of deconstruction and decolonization of these collections to make them available as instruments able to enhance a decolonizing discourse centred on the Italian colonial past. 

On Monday the 30th of May at 12 (BST) we will discuss the history, the aim, the heritage of the former Colonial Museum of Rome and the tools used in ‘Unveiled Storages’ to decolonize it with the two curators of the project: Dr Gaia Delpino and Dr Rosa Anna Di Lella. At the end of the seminar, there will be space for questions and comments in both English and Italian.


Rosa Anna Di Lella is a cultural anthropologist specialized in Museum Studies and North African Collections. She has been collaborating with several public and private institutions on museographic collaborative projects. She is a curator of the Museo Italo Africano, the new section of the Museo delle Civiltà devoted to the legacy of Italian colonialism and to post-colonial issues. She is also a researcher at Istituto Centrale per il Patrimonio Immateriale (Mibact) where she is carrying out the project ‘Italia dalle molte culture’ focused on contemporary migrations. 

Gaia Delpino (PhD) is a cultural anthropologist specialized in African Studies. She carried out several ethnographic and archival research in Ghana on themes like political anthropology, slave trade, memory, heritage, homecomings movements and tourism. Since 2018 she is the curator of the African collections of Museo delle Civiltà and of Museo Italo Africano. 


Pietro Dalmazzo is a third-year PhD student in Italian studies at the University of Durham funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Northern Bridge scholarship. His research project looks at the representation of Italian expansionism under Fascism, specifically on the ways in which eastern Adriatic was constructed discursively by the Italian culture during the regime. He spent the last six months working within the former Colonial Museum of Rome.