From Realtà Mapei International n° 68 - 5/28/2018
Palazzo Belmonte Riso (Belmonte Riso Palace) is one of the most important and monumental buildings in the old part of Palermo and overlooks Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Piazza Bologni.
It was built at the end of the eighteenth century by the Princes of the Ventimiglia Belmonte family and is an interesting example of how a private residence of the nobility conjugates the magnificence of the late Baroque era with the rigours of Neo-classicism.
In 1841 the Palazzo was sold to the Riso family and, to this day, a sculpture of the family crest still adorns the main gate.
In 1943, during the Second World War, it was almost razed to the ground during the bombardments carried out by the Anglo-American armed forces. In 1986, after years of neglect and deterioration, the Palazzo was bought by the Sicilian Regional Government. Restoration work was started in the 1990’s and the monument was handed back to the city.
Since 2005, Palazzo Belmonte Riso has been the home of the Sicilian Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, also known as the RISO.
RESTORATION PROJECT: ARCHITECTURAL CHOICES
The intention of the most recent restoration project in 2004, which was financed by the Sicily Region Department of Cultural Heritage and Sicilian Identity, was to restore the building to its original layout and to make it more accessible by adding annexes and extensions to redefine the spaces in the two internal courtyards. The reconfiguration of the east wing of the Palazzo represented the most significant part of the project. It consisted in the construction of a two-storey extension on the side of the building overlooking the first of the two courtyards, starting from the ground floor where the display areas of the museum are located, in order to maintain a certain level of architectural continuity when connecting the new building to the adjacent existing three-storey building of the south wing of the Palazzo. The same logic was adopted for the parts of the building overlooking the second courtyard, with the construction, in this case, of a single-storey building.