A Donation to the Museum of Cultures in Lugano, Switzerland

Museums have been my university.

Since I started in this profession I have visited the places of my studies, read the books on a given subject or country; however, it was museums that enabled me to better understand what I saw or read.

The relationship between art dealers and museums has always been important. Selling or donating pieces to a museum enriches the institution and also confirms the dealer’s competence. The donation may be an important piece or a simple folk-art artefact, but both are a testimony of history and culture.

Thus, when I met Paolo Campione, the Director of the Museo delle Culture (Museum of Cultures) in Lugano last year, I offered as a donation a group of ten works from Nuristan, a mountainous region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, that I had purchased in Kabul in the 1970s.

The group consists of examples of “material culture”—wooden butter jars, chairs with geometric or floral designs carved on the backrests; a mortar decorated with a star motif, similar to those on the furniture and in the houses of the Alps; a panel decorated with goat heads and symbols of rank; and also a long pole carved with stylized ancestors’ heads which supported the roof and measured out, along with three other poles, the central space in the house found beside the fireplace.

In the near term I expect to make other donations to more museums in Italy and abroad. They will be a demonstration of gratitude for the cultures that have fascinated me. I hope they will be preserved and their origins will illuminate visitors.

Renzo Freschi

Renzo Freschi
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